The court ruled to keep 12 out of 13 witnesses anonymous, but declined a request for anonymity made by one of them.
According to the court, the fact that the witness no longer has formal anonymity does not mean that their identity will be revealed. According to the court, the reason for the denial was that the witness did not have the opportunity to comment in the case, which is necessary for an investigative judge to make a ruling on whether someone is under threat or not.
On Monday, the court examined the validity of the investigating judge’s decision to grant witness status to 13 persons, as they are considered to be under threat if their identities become known.
Russian nationals Igor Girkin, Sergei Dubinsky, and Oleg Pulatov, as well as Ukrainian national Leonid Kharchenko are the defendants. Pulatov is represented by an international group, including two Dutch lawyers and one Russian lawyer, while the others are being tried in absentia. The hearings are scheduled to resume on 8 June.
The hearings in the case of the MH17 crash in eastern Ukraine were held at the Schiphol Judicial Complex near Amsterdam from 9-10 March and at the District Court of The Hague on 28 March. Further hearings were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The US, the UK, and Australia have supported Kiev’s accusations and claimed that the airliner was shot down by a surface-to-air missile from an area controlled by forces of the self-proclaimed republics, which allegedly received the weapons from Russia.
Following the deadly crash, the US and the EU imposed sanctions against Russia, which they claimed could be responsible for the tragedy.
On 7 August 2014, a Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) was created; Russia, however, was excluded from the international investigation for no reason.
The JIT probe concluded that the plane was downed by a Buk missile, claiming that it came from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade of the Russian Armed Forces, based near the city of Kursk. The Russian Foreign Ministry has strongly rejected the conclusions as groundless and called the investigation "biased".
After conducting its own investigation with the help of Almaz-Antey, the defence firm that produced the Buk missile system, Moscow provided the JIT with evidence proving that MH17 was downed by a missile that has not been manufactured in Russia for a long time, but that is still in use in Ukraine. All the information provided by Russia has been ignored by the Dutch investigators.
The JIT, meanwhile, announced in June 2019 the names of four suspects - three Russians and one Ukrainian citizen, claiming that the four individuals were accomplices in delivering a Buk missile system to a launch site in eastern Ukraine that was used to hit the Boeing.