Appeal
Reconsideration of a case by a higher court. 

Clerk of the court
A person who provides assistance to the judges during proceedings in court. The clerk keeps notes of everything said and done during those proceedings and helps to draft the judgment. The clerk also helps the judges prepare for the case.

Court
A body that makes a formal judgment on a disputed matter. The court referred to here is The Hague district court. There are also courts of appeal and the Supreme Court.

Defended proceedings
Proceedings in which the defendant appears in person at the trial, or is represented by a lawyer who appears on their behalf.

Examining Magistrate
The Examining (or Investigating) Magistrate in criminal cases is a special judge. This judge does not serve at the final criminal hearing, but is the judge in the preliminary phase of a criminal case. He/she supervises the investigation, which is led by the public prosecutor. Watch the video to find out more about the Examining Magistrate.

Expert
A specialist in a particular field who presents a report in court and answers questions on what their expert knowledge leads them to believe about certain aspects of the case. This could for example be a behavioural expert, a doctor or a telecommunications expert.

Full-bench chamber
A full-bench chamber is part of a court that issues judgments on cases. Usually it consists of three judges. A full-bench chamber decides on more serious or complex cases.

Indictment
This is the part of the summons that sets out the Public Prosecution Service’s accusations against the defendant.

Joint Investigation Team
A Joint Investigation Team (JIT) is an investigative team that deals with a specific case that has cross-border aspects. The team members are drawn from the law enforcement authorities of a number of different countries. They investigate an incident to determine whether criminal offences were committed and, if so, who the suspected perpetrators are. On 7 August 2014 the Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia, Belgium and Ukraine formed a JIT to investigate the crash of flight MH17.

Judgment in absentia or conviction in absentia
A conviction handed down after the defendant was summoned to appear in accordance with the rules but did not do so (and no lawyer appeared on their behalf either).

Judicial authorities
This is a collective term for judges and public prosecutors. In English, judges are referred to collectively as the judiciary or ‘the bench’, or in a single case as ‘the court’. Prosecutors are lawyers who work for the Public Prosecution Service (OM). In Dutch, these authorities are sometimes referred to as ‘sitting’ (judges) and ‘standing’ (prosecutors), because judges sit during the trial, whereas prosecutors stand when they address the court.

Judicial disqualification (recusal)
The defence can submit an application asking one or more judges to withdraw from the case (‘recuse themselves’) due to bias or the appearance of bias.

Offence
An illegal act.

Official record
A written report of what happened during a hearing or trial. The official record also notes the decisions taken by the court during the hearing or trial. The presiding judge in the district court case signs the official record.

Pre-trial review
A pre-trial review is a hearing at which matters relating to the case are discussed, for instance whether further investigation is necessary. 

A single hearing can serve as both a pro-forma hearing and a pre-trial review.

If a suspect is placed in pre-trial detention, the district court will hold a pro-forma hearing within 90 days to reassess the situation and decide on whether detention should continue. In certain circumstances, the district court might decide to terminate or suspend pre-trial detention. Suspension means a temporary interruption of the pre-trial detention, subject to conditions set by the district court.

Pro-forma hearing
If a suspect is placed in pre-trial detention, the district court will hold a ‘pro-forma’ hearing within 90 days to reassess the situation and decide whether detention should continue. The substance of the case is not discussed in a pro-forma hearing. In certain circumstances the district court might decide to terminate or suspend pre-trial detention. Suspension means a temporary interruption of pre-trial detention, subject to conditions set by the district court.

A pre-trial review is a hearing at which matters relating to the case are discussed, for instance whether further investigation is necessary. 

A single hearing can serve as both a pro-forma hearing and a pre-trial review.

Public Prosecution Service
The Public Prosecution Service (OM) is part of the Ministry of Justice and Security. The Public Prosecution Service leads the police investigation and can decide if suspects should be prosecuted.

Public prosecutor
A person who represents the Public Prosecution Service in court. The public prosecutor leads the investigation in criminal cases. Depending on the results of the investigation, the public prosecutor may decide to bring the case before the court (by issuing a summons), offer the suspect the opportunity to pay a settlement penalty to avoid prosecution, or decide not to prosecute (for instance if there is insufficient evidence).

Public prosecutor’s closing speech
In his or her closing speech in criminal proceedings the public prosecutor sets out the facts of the case, gives his or her opinion of the evidence against the defendant and, on this basis, asks the judge(s) to either impose a particular penalty on the defendant or acquit the defendant.

Relatives of the victims
The law says that the following relatives of the victims have the right to address the court:

  • The spouse or partner of the deceased.
  • Blood relatives from the same direct line of descent as the deceased (the direct line of descent means people who are descended from one another, for example parents and children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren).
  • Blood relatives of the deceased from a collateral line, up to and including the fourth degree (this means people who are not descended from one another but who do have a common ancestor, so for example siblings and cousins; the degree is determined by counting the number of births that lie between the relatives in the family tree: for example the birth of the deceased, birth of a parent, birth of an uncle or aunt, birth of a cousin).
  • People who were depending on the deceased. These are people whose position is similar to that of members of the immediate family, but specifically refers to those who were financially supported by the deceased. For instance, this could include a child who the deceased had not officially acknowledged as their own or someone living in the same household who was not a blood relative of the deceased.

Sometimes, a person is permitted to address the court on behalf of the relatives of the victims, for instance if the relatives of the victims cannot do so. This person could be a lawyer or someone from Victim Support Netherlands.

Right to address the court
Relatives of the victims who have the legal right to address the court (see the term ‘relatives of the victims’) are given time and opportunity to speak in court. Sometimes another person is permitted to speak on their behalf, for instance if none of the relatives of the victims feels able to do so. This could for example be a lawyer or someone from Victim Support Netherlands. Relatives of the victims who have the right to address the court (or the person who speaks on their behalf) are allowed to talk about how the offence has affected them. They can also give their opinion on the penalty that should be imposed on the defendant(s).

Schiphol Judicial Complex
Schiphol Judicial Complex (JCS) is a complex of buildings used by a number of different organisations within the justice and immigration system. There is a court building for handling major cases. The complex also houses Schiphol Detention Centre and the Schiphol asylum application centre, which is a unit of the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). The JCS is located in Badhoevedorp.

Second opinion
If the Public Prosecution Service or a defendant disputes the outcome of an expert investigation, they can ask the district court to obtain a second opinion from other experts.

Summons
An official written order, instructing a person to appear before the district court and stating the accusations against them.

Witnesses
During a trial, individuals who witnessed the criminal offence may be questioned (‘examined’) at the request of the Public Prosecution Service or of the defendant or their lawyer. The district court may also decide to examine witnesses on its own initiative.