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Hearings on MH17 Postponed Until 23 March

© AP Photo / REMKO DE WAALGeneral view of the Judicial Complex Schiphol in Badhoevedorp, on June 19, 2019, where will be held the trial of the four people over the MH17 Malaysia Airlines plane crash in 2014. - International investigators on June 19, 2019 charged four people with murder over the 2014 shooting down of flight MH17 above rebel-held eastern Ukraine in which 298 people were killed.
General view of the Judicial Complex Schiphol in Badhoevedorp, on June 19, 2019, where will be held the trial of the four people over the MH17 Malaysia Airlines plane crash in 2014. - International investigators on June 19, 2019 charged four people with murder over the 2014 shooting down of flight MH17 above rebel-held eastern Ukraine in which 298 people were killed. - Sputnik International
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Earlier in the day, prosecutor in the MH17 case Thijs Berger said that the investigation into the 2014 downing of flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine had almost been completed and the materials will be handed over to the court by June.

The Dutch court announced on Tuesday that the hearings on the MH17 crash have been postponed until 23 March.

The trial of four suspects in the case — Russian nationals Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinsky and Oleg Pulatov, and Ukrainian national Leonid Kharchenko — began in the Hague on Monday.

The Boeing 777 of Malaysia Airlines heading to Amsterdam from Kuala Lumpur was downed near the city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014. All 298 people aboard, mainly Malaysian and Dutch citizens, were killed in the incident.

Kiev and the self-proclaimed republics in the east of the country blamed each other for the downing. The US and a number of European nations blamed the incident on Russia, a claim that was made even before an official investigation was launched, with the West repeatedly citing Russia being at odds with Ukraine over Crimea and Donbass.

Following the crash, the Netherlands established the Joint Investigative Team (JIT) to conduct an inquiry into the case. Moscow, however, was excluded from the investigation process but conducted its own research.

As a result of its investigation, the JIT has accused four individuals – three Russians and a Ukrainian – of playing a significant role in the incident.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has described the investigation as “biased and one-sided”, saying that the investigators have ignored evidence provided by Russia, including Russian radar readings.

Peter Langstraat, lawyer representing victims' families, talks to the media after a Dutch court opened the criminal trial against four suspects in the July 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, in Badhoevedorp, Netherlands March 9, 2020. REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw - Sputnik International
Day One of MH17 Hearings: Tight Security in Place, Accusations of 'Show-Trial' From Sceptics
Both the JIT and Russia agree that the aircraft was downed by a Buk missile. Moscow, however, insists that the missile belonged to Ukrainian forces, as in Russia, the missile was taken out of service back in 2011.

Besides the JIT, the incident was investigated by the Dutch Safety Board, which pointed out mistakes on the Ukrainian side, notably their failure to close the country’s airspace amid the raging conflict in the area.

Commenting on the results of the investigation, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir said that he was “unhappy” with the findings as it was all about blaming Russia from the very beginning.

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