Three Russians and a Ukranian brought a “deadly weapon” into Ukraine where it was fired at MH17 killed all 298 people aboard, a court has heard.
The trial of Russians Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov and Ukranian Leonid Kharchenko began in the Netherlands on Monday over the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight 17 on July 17, 2014.
All 298 aboard died when the plane was hit by a surface-to-air missile fired from a Buk-TELAR allegedly put in place by the four defendants.
Dutch prosecutor Dedy Woei-A-Tsoi says the men, who are being tried in absentia, face charges of murder and the destruction of a civilian airliner.
“In more than one country in the world, mainly Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, the Philippines, Israel, Italy, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Romania, the United Kingdom, the United States, Vietnam and South African, all mourn for the demise of their citizens,” she told the court.
“In the opinion of the Public Prosecution Service they organised … that a deadly weapon, a Buk-TELAR, was transferred into eastern Ukraine, as well as arranging that Bul-TELAR was (to be) brought to a location from which a Buk missile was launched that hit flight MH17.
“Subsequently, they all saw to it that the deadly weapon was returned.”
Ms Dedy Woei-A-Tsoi then read out the names of all 298 passengers who died on the flight.
“The heavy silence in this room when the names were being read out … makes abundantly clear that everyone sitting here was lost in their thoughts,” Dutch District Judge Hendrik Steenhuis said.
Earlier, Judge Steenhuis reflected on the impact of the disaster on the families and friends of the dead in his opening remarks.
“The court realises the impact of the loss of so many lives and the manner in which they so abruptly ended is barely conceivable,” he said.
The judge said the trial was likely to stretch into next year, with the case file containing 36,000 documents and enormous number of multimedia files.
He said defence lawyers for Pulatov, the only defendant being represented in court, had only presented to the court in January.
“That really means they’ve had but a brief space of time to prepare for this hearing,” the judge said.
Judge Steenhuis said victims would be given the floor to tell the court about the impact of the disaster on their lives and up to 84 would claim compensation.
“The fact that since years have gone by … means that for the next of kin and for other people a great deal of patience has been required,” he said.
“I’m quite sure that especially for next of kin this will be very painful and emotional period. There are many victims and because of that there are many next of kin.”