Today the court opened with remarks relating to the course of events in Ukraine since 24 February 2022. The court extends its sympathies to the population and to all those affected by the violence. Consideration has been given as to whether carrying on with the criminal proceedings is appropriate under these circumstances. Given the importance for the defendants and the relatives alike of conducting the trial within a reasonable time frame, the answer to this question is affirmative.

The Defence expressed personal condemnation of the violence in Ukraine. They are continuing the defence, because in our democratic rule of law, their client is entitled to a fair trial, and their task as counsel is to oversee due process.

The Prosecution has emphasized that the Defence must be able to protect the interests of the defendant in all respects to ensure justice and a fair trial.

Counsel for the Relatives agreed and then noted that the acts of war in Ukraine confirm that the Russian Federation was already involved in the conflict in Ukraine in 2014.

Oral arguments by the Defence

Day 1: Perspective

The Defence has described the perspective from which it views the procedural course of the case, the collection of evidence and the documentation.

The Defence will question the choice by the JIT and the Prosecution to pursue the scenario in which a BUK TELAR was fired by pro-Russian separatists from a small field near Pervomaiskyi. The Dutch government has publicly endorsed this scenario since 2015. According to the Defence, virtually no investigation has been conducted into alternative scenarios.

Over the following days, the Defence will elaborate on why the evidence that a BUK missile caused the explosion at the MH17 is not convincing, and that if it was a BUK missile, it was an old model that would have been available only to Ukraine in July 2014. They will also demonstrate that the launch site cannot have been in the area of Pervomaiskyi. The Defence will address the alternative scenarios that have received no or insufficient consideration to date. Especially the scenario that has become known as the Ukrainian scenario will be highlighted. Finally, the Defence will explore the question as to whether – if the scenario of the Prosecution were correct – their client is punishable for being involved.

The Defence expects to complete oral arguments on 30 March 2022, by 1 April 2022 at the latest.