Today the inspection took place of the reconstruction of the MH17 airplane and the pieces of wreckage displayed alongside it at Gilze-Rijen air base.
Those present, relatives and livestream
The reconstruction and pieces of wreckage were viewed (inspected) as part of the case against one of the four accused. In addition to the court, the defence, two prosecutors and members of the Counsel for the relatives were present at the inspection. Representatives of the press were there as well. Other members of the public could not be present due to the special nature of the site and the limited number of places. The session/inspection was made available via livestream.
The relatives were also among those able to view the inspection via livestream. Some of them did so at the Judicial Complex Schiphol press centre, where an area was arranged for them.
The court specifically addressed the relatives to emphasise that they realise the visit by the court to inspect the reconstruction of the MH17 airplane will have a particular emotional impact on the relatives. After all, the reconstruction concerns the airplane in which their loved ones were en route to a destination they never reached, because the airplane crashed in mid-flight, killing all those on board. A representative of the Counsel for the relatives spoke on behalf of the relatives and indicated what the visit to the reconstruction of the MH17 airplane means to them.
Recorded footage and photographs
During the inspection parts of the reconstruction and pieces of wreckage displayed were video-recorded and photographed by the court. This footage will be included in the prosecution file, which the court will discuss at the trial in the criminal case. The observations by the court during the inspection may be used as evidence, in both an incriminating and an exculpatory sense.
The court did not disclose their observations. If the court sees cause, or if one of the parties to the proceedings requests, the court may do so when the examination in the proceedings resumes on or after 7 June 2021. Whether and, if so, how the observations will figure in the questions to be answered by the court in this criminal case will become clear from the judgement ultimately rendered by the court.
Start of the hearing on the merits
Hearings in the cases against all the accused will resume on 7 June 2021 at 10.00 hours. On that day the hearing on the merits will begin in the MH17 criminal proceedings.
More general topics will be covered on that first day. The investigation by the examining magistrate will be discussed, and remarks may be made about the inspection. The court will also deliver an introduction to the discussion of the case file over the following days.
The court is expected to be able to discuss the case file in three days, on 8, 9 and 10 June 2021. In the process, the court will conduct a summary discussion of the documents in the case file. Friday 11 June 2021 has been scheduled as an extension day.
Afterwards the prosecution will have the opportunity to discuss sections of the case file on 17 and 18 June 2021. The defence may subsequently be given the opportunity to discuss sections of the case file they deem relevant. The block of hearings will continue through 9 July 2021.
In September 2021 the relatives shall be granted the opportunity to address the court.