Prosecution and trial

The Netherlands Public Prosecution Service prosecutes four suspects for bringing down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on 17 July 2014. The District Court of The Hague is handling the criminal case at the Schiphol Judicial Complex. The first proceedings took place between March and November 2020, during which the Public Prosecution Service has provided an detailed overview of the criminal investigation. The prosecutors also responded to the requests made by the defence. On 25 November the court decided on those. The Pre-trial phase therefore has ended. The substantive hearing of the case has started in June.

Who are the suspects accused of bringing down MH17?

The Dutch Public Prosecution Service prosecutes the following persons:

  • Igor Vsevolodovich GIRKIN (17-12-1970)

Igor Girkin also known as Strelkov or Perviy, is a former colonel of the FSB, the Russian Federal Security Service. On the 17th of July 2014, Girkin was Minister of Defence and commander of the army of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic. Flight MH17 was shot down from this area. As the highest military officer he maintained contact with the Russian Federation.

  • Sergey Nikolayevich DUBINSKIY (09-08-1962)

Sergey Dubinskiy, nicknamed Khmuriy, is a former military officer of the GRU, the Russian military intelligence service. Dubinskiy was one of Girkin’s deputies in 2014 and also head of the intelligence service of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic. He also maintained regular contact with officials in Russia.

  • Oleg Yuldashevich PULATOV (24-07-1966)

Oleg Pulatov, also known as Giurza, is a former military officer of the Russian Spetznaz-GRU, the special units of the Russian military intelligence service. In 2014, Pulatov was deputy head of the intelligence service of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic and one of the deputies of Dubinskiy.

  • Leonid Volodymyrovych KHARCHENKO (10-01-1972)

Leonid Kharchenko, also known as Krot, is the only Ukrainian suspect. He has no military background. He received his orders directly from Dubinskiy and in July 2014 he was commander of a combat unit in the Donetsk region. At that time, there was an armed conflict in that area between pro-Russian fighters and the Ukrainian armed forces.

What are the charges brought against the suspects by the OM?

At the first session of the MH17-trial the public prosecutor announced the charges against the suspects. The Public Prosecution Service (OM) alleges the four suspects cooperated closely to obtain and deploy the BUK TELAR at the firing location with the aim of shooting down an aircraft. For that reason they can be held jointly accountable for downing flight MH17.

They are prosecuted for:

  1. causing the crash of flight MH17, resulting in the death of all persons on board, punishable pursuant to Article 168 of the Dutch Criminal Code;
  2. the murder of the 298 persons on board of flight MH17, punishable pursuant to Article 289 of the Dutch Criminal Code.

The Dutch Public Prosecution Service summoned the four suspects to appear in court, in order to account for their role in bringing down flight MH17 in court. Read the complete charges in the anonimyzed summons.

Extradition not possible

Three of the suspects have Russian nationality, the fourth is Ukrainian. As the constitutions of Russia and Ukraine do not allow extradition of nationals, extradition of the suspects will not be requested.

The Public Prosecution Service issued international arrest warrants for the suspects and placed them on national and international Lists of Wanted Persons. This is why the full names of the suspects have been announced and their photos are being shown. 

Dutch criminal case with an international twist

The MH17 criminal proceedings will take place in the Netherlands according to The Dutch Code of Criminal Procedure. In order to be able to conduct the trial in the Netherlands, the Netherlands and Ukraine have signed an agreement for international legal cooperation. Furthermore, a separate provision has been laid down by law because of the international character of the trial. This will allow the court, for example, to allow certain parts of the criminal proceedings to be conducted in English, such as the exercise of the right to speak by foreign next of kin.

The rights of the next of kin in the MH17 trial

The rights of the next of kin are laid down by Dutch law. In the MH17 case there is a large number of affected families. Moreover, they live all over the world. The court will ultimately decide how the next of kin will be able to exercise their rights. The Public Prosecution Service, together with the police and Victim Support Netherlands, will advise the court on this.

Hearings in the MH17 trial at the Schiphol Judicial Complex

A large number of (international) next of kin want to attend the hearings and there is worldwide media interest in the criminal proceedings. For that reason, the District Court of The Hague will conduct the hearings at the Schiphol Judicial Complex (JCS), because there is more space. The District Court of The Hague will provide a live stream of the sessions.