"If the defendants are present in the courtroom and cannot understand Dutch or English, the judge will provide a certified interpreter. Translation of the file case can be provided by the lawyer of the defendants, but not by the court. The court is in Dutch, so all files and hearings will be in Dutch. No translation other than an interpreter is obligatory", the representative said.
"Judging by my experience, related to availability and busyness of qualified staff, it will take one and a half years at least to translate all these documents", Elena Tais, the head of the Netherlands-based Russian translation agency RLTS, told Sputnik, adding that the case file consisted of 36,000 pages.
The hearings began at the Schiphol Judicial Complex on Monday and Tuesday and will continue on 23 March. Russian nationals Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinsky and Oleg Pulatov, and Ukrainian national Leonid Kharchenko are the defendants. Pulatov is represented by an international group, uniting two Dutch lawyers and one Russian lawyer, while the others are tried in absentia.
Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was downed over eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014 as the self-proclaimed republics in the region were engulfed in an armed conflict with the new government following a coup earlier that year. As a result, all 298 passengers – mostly Dutch – and crew on board were killed in the crash.
Following the tragedy, Kiev and the republics blamed each other for the downing, with the latter contending that they had no military equipment that would allow them to shoot down an aircraft at that altitude.
Almost immediately after the incident, the US and its European allies claimed, without presenting any evidence, that Russia had provided the Donetsk People's Republic's (DPR) militia with the weaponry that was used to down the aircraft.
These allegations were used by Washington and Brussels as a pretext to introduce sanctions against Moscow.
Shortly thereafter, the Netherlands set up a Joint Investigative Team (JIT) to probe the MH17 case, having, however, left out Russia from the process despite its consistent offers to assist in the investigation.
Moscow has repeatedly denied the accusations and even provided vast amounts of data such as radar feeds from the area of the crash and info on the Buk 9M38-series air defence system showing that it couldn't have been used to down the plane, but this information was ignored by the JIT.
In 2018, the JIT released a report claiming that the missile that shot down MH17 was launched by DPR forces and that the Buk launcher had been delivered from Russia. Moscow stated that the probe was politically motivated, pointing out that the team had based its claims on unverified social media photos and videos, as well as assertions by the Ukrainian government.
The prime minister of Malaysia, which lost 43 people in the tragedy, also criticised the results of the investigation, which he called "politicised".
In the final report, published on 18 June 2019, the JIT accused three Russians and one Ukrainian of being responsible for the downing, issuing international arrest warrants for them.
Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the report for failing to address "a lot of questions" that remained unanswered, adding that the JIT did not plan to investigate the tragedy but to "appoint perpetrators" instead.