From: Suriati Sidek Ahmad
AMSTERDAM, March 9 (Bernama) -- As the prosecution read out one-by-one, the names of all 298 people killed on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 when it was shot down while flying over eastern Ukraine almost six years ago, people in the courtroom today at the District Court of The Hague fell silent, as they were visibly moved.
After prosecutor Dedy Woei-A-Tsoi completed reading out the names over a 20-minute period, Judge Hendrik Steenhuis who presided over a bench of three justices, said the consequences of the downing of the Boeing 777 aircraft on July 17, 2014, on the families of the victims, were almost inconceivable.
“And the heavy silence in this room when the names of all who lost their lives were being read out, made abundantly clear that everybody was sitting here lost in their thoughts,” he said. The other two judges are Dagmar Kosters and Helen Kersterns-Fockens.
On trial are Russians Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinsky and Oleg Pulatov, as well as Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko.
However, none of them appeared in court today, the first day of the trial being held at the Schiphol Judicial Complex (JCS) in Badhoevedorp here.
MH17-VICTIMS 2 AMSTERDAM
The four men have been charged with causing the downing of flight MH17, resulting in the death of all 298 persons on board, punishable pursuant to Article 168 of the Dutch Criminal Code, and for the murder of all on board, punishable pursuant to Article 289 of the same code.
Woei-A-Tsoi also read out a list of all countries that had lost their citizens in the tragedy.
"A deadly weapon, a BUK missile transported to eastern Ukraine hit MH17. All the accused are summoned for causing MH17 to crash and the murder of 298 people," she said.
She said other suspects had also helped arrange the Russian missile system used to shoot down MH17 in eastern Ukraine, and they were still at large. “They are believed to be in Russia,” she added.
Earlier in his opening remarks, Judge Steenhuis began the case by explaining the functions of the court, the duty of the prosecution and defence, and the background of the case.
MH17-VICTIMS 3 (LAST) AMSTERDAM
He said the world had waited a long time for the start of proceedings as the incident was a tragic loss of many human lives with enormous consequences for their next-of-kin, with the tragedy touching so many others all over the globe.
The judge also emphasised the rights of the accused persons whom he said were innocent until proven guilty by law.
“The trial must be conducted fairly and in an impartial manner,” he said.
The judge added that under Dutch law, the family members of the victims also had the right to address the court, as well to claim compensation.
The 298 passengers and crew on board, included 43 Malaysian, 193 Dutch and 27 Australian nationals.
Tags: MH17, victims, names, silent, court, trial, Hague