On the last day in court on 25 November 2020 the court referred the case to the investigating judge for additional investigation. Today the current state of play in the ongoing investigation was discussed, and the court made a remark about the application by the Public Prosecution Service to inspect the reconstruction of the MH17. Additionally, the Counsel for the Relatives spoke about the course of events relating to the submission of claims for damage compensation by the relatives. The defence made some requests as well.
Additional investigation by the investigating judge
The investigating judge has reported in writing on the circumstances of the investigation yet to be conducted. Part of that investigation has been completed. Several witnesses have been interviewed, experts have been appointed, and transcripts and translations have been produced of video recordings of suspects. In the coming months additional witnesses will be interviewed, and experts will report on their findings.
Application to conduct an inspection
The court has yet to take a decision on the previous application by the Public Prosecution Service to conduct an inspection. The court has already announced that, if there is an inspection, only a limited number of persons will be able to attend that inspection. This is because of the location where the inspection will take place, on a military and secure site, in a hangar of modest size. In addition, COVID-19 measures may still be in effect at that point in time. If an inspection is conducted, the court will provide livestream coverage.
Claims for damage compensation
On 31 August 2020 the court determined that claims for damage compensation yet to be submitted by relatives will be deemed subject to Ukrainian law for the time being. Counsel for the Relatives has asked a law firm in Ukraine to team up with a professor of Ukrainian law in providing advice on Ukrainian law. Counsel for the Relatives expects that the claims for damage compensation may be submitted by 15 April 2021 at the latest.
Requests by the defence
The defence has submitted various requests, such as a request to add several reports to the case file. The defence has also repeated a request previously submitted and rejected to retrieve registrations from devices that might have recorded radar activity. In addition, the defence has asked that two new witnesses be interviewed. A witness recently interviewed by the investigating judge is believed to have mentioned these witnesses.
The defence has reported that they need more time to prepare to visit the reconstruction of the MH17 together with a knowledgeable person. The defence wants the court to grant them access to additional photographs of the wreckage, so that the knowledgeable person may determine based on all available photographs which wreckage he wishes to see.
The Public Prosecution Service is inclined to reject the requests by the defence. For example, the court previously rejected the request relating to radar activity. In addition, photographs have been taken of all recovered wreckage and have been provided to the defence. Nor does the Public Prosecution Service see why two new witnesses need to be examined, given that insufficient information is available about these witnesses.
The way forward
The court will decide about the requests submitted today on 8 February 2021 at 14.00 hours.