The House of Representatives has approved two bills making provision for those accused of the crash of flight MH17 to stand trial in the Netherlands. The bills were passed with the support of every party in parliament. The legislation implements the agreement on international legal cooperation concluded by the Netherlands and Ukraine in July 2017.
The agreement was needed to implement the decision taken by the countries that comprise the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) – Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, Ukraine and the Netherlands – to conduct any prosecution and trial in the Netherlands in accordance with Dutch law. As yet, no one has been charged by the Public Prosecution Service.
The new legislation contains provisions that are specific to this unique situation. For example, given the international nature of the proceedings, the court is authorised to allow parts of the proceedings to be conducted in English, for instance to enable the next of kin to exercise their right to speak at the trial. In addition, an extremely rare exception will be made to the right of accused persons to be physically present in the courtroom. The legislation makes provision for the use of video conferencing technology, enabling the accused to participate in the proceedings from another country.
The new legislation will govern the criminal prosecution of individuals accused of the crash of flight MH17. It is unconnected to the recent announcement by the Dutch and Australian governments that they intend to hold Russia liable for the disaster under international law.