Opening statement and context of the investigation

Over the next few days the Netherlands Public Prosecution Service will be presenting the investigation that has been carried out over the past years. The purpose of this explanation is to enable the court to decide whether or not the investigation has been completed and whether the case is now ready to be heard. In order to answer that question, the court file is decisive, but a presentation – including a clarification of that court file - from the Public Prosecution Service can be helpful. Moreover, such a public explanation is the way in which the Public Prosecution Service publicly render an account with respect to the investigation so far and the decisions we took in the course of the investigation.

This is a summary of the speaking notes of the prosecutor. The full presentation can be watched in the video.

Opening statement public prosecutor MH17 trial

We would like to make clear the goal of this explanation is explicitly not to provide an overview of the available evidence in this case. Furthermore, we shall not draw any conclusions on what can or cannot be proven. A public overview of the evidence can only be made when the defence has been given the opportunity to supplement the court file and when the court is ready for the substantive hearings. Our explanation will, however, provide an insight in the various types of evidence that have been collected in the investigation. Furthermore, we will address why the Public Prosecution Service believes that several parts of the investigation have been completed. In doing so, we refer to findings that have been made publicly by the JIT in the past and which have been addressed at the previous hearings on 9 and 10 March 2020.

We fully realize that the next of kin and other interested parties have been waiting for a long time and are eager to learn the findings of the investigation, what conclusions can be drawn and who is responsible. At this point these questions will not be answered because this criminal trial should be done in an accurate and precise way. The Public Prosecution Service may however provide limited information which is needed to address the public call for clarity. This has been similarly done by the JIT in the past. However, a full and comprehensive overview of the relevant evidence will only be presented during the substantive court hearing later in this trial.

Today and over the next few days we will provide an explanation on the course of the investigation. We will start with an outline of the situation in the area where MH17 has crashed and the parties involved in that situation. This will be followed by a clarification on the investigation of  the various types of evidential sources:

  • forensic evidence
  • telecommunication
  • witnesses
  • photographs and videos
  • digital sources
  • radar data
  • satellite images

After this we will explain how, on the basis of these types of evidence, the investigation into the cause of the crash of MH17 has been conducted. In doing so, several scenarios have been investigated:

  • an explosion from within the aircraft;
  • an attack by a fighter jet;
  • the use of ground-to-air missile other than a Buk-missile; and
  • the use of a Buk-missile

With regard to the final scenario we have investigated several possible launch locations. We have also investigated both Ukrainian and Russian Buk-systems. The research done with respect to these different scenarios will be presented in the following days.

Subsequently we will explain what has been done to provide insight into the operation of the Buk-system. Afterwards we will discuss what has been done regarding the investigation of the suspects. In this respect, we will explain what has been done to distinguish the individual roles the suspects may or may not have had in the commission of the alleged offences. We will then describe what has been done to answer the question whether any legal obstacles exist to prosecute them. In the meantime we will explain why we believe that separate parts of the investigation have been completed. Finally we will go into the question which further investigation should be done.