In these last two days of the hearing on the merits in the MH17 criminal trial, Defence Counsel responded to the reply from the Prosecution and Counsel for the Relatives of 16, 17 and 18 May 2022. At the end the defendant whose defence was conducted delivered the last word.

Rejoinder from Defence Counsel

Defence Counsel noted once again that in their view the trial has not been fair. The Prosecution is believed to have ignored the ‘presumption of innocence’ (a person is innocent until proven guilty) by presenting its suspicions as facts and mentioning ‘perpetrators’ in the media. As a consequence, according to Defence Counsel, the information disclosed to the public was not balanced, and the Prosecution essentially tried via public opinion to influence the court in forming an independent judgment. Defence Counsel also maintained its position that because of the manner of the investigation and the restrictions on accessing the investigation file and interviewing witnesses, the defendant did not have the opportunity to present a genuine defence against the view of the Prosecution.

Following the reaction from the Prosecution to the meritorious defence put forward by Defence Counsel[1], Defence Counsel once again addressed the topics: identification of the missile, firing location, alternative scenario and involvement of the defendant.

Last word

After the rejoinder, a video was played in the courtroom with a statement from the defendant whose defence was conducted as the last word. As the term ‘last word’ suggests, this concludes the investigation in court in this criminal trial.

End of the examination in court

Now that the hearing on the merits in the MH17 criminal trial has concluded, the court will consider the accusations by the Prosecution against the defendants (the charges), what Defence Counsel has put forward to counter them and the claims from the injured parties assisted by Counsel for the Relatives. The resulting ruling by the court will be set forth in four judgments.

Thursday 22 September 2022 will also be a formal day in court, according to the schedule drafted previously. This hearing is expected to consist only of an announcement that the investigation in court will be adjourned immediately until 17 November 2022.

Whether the judgment will be forthcoming on 17 November 2022 or on 15 December 2022 remains uncertain at this time. The court expects to be able to disclose this on 22 September 2022. If the actual judgment date is known before that, this information will be posted on the website

[1] The summary of the pleadings by Defence Counsel, see the following link.