MH17 perpetrators to be tried in Netherlands

Those responsible for downing flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014, will stand trial in the Netherlands, the five countries most involved with the disaster decided on Tuesday night. The decision follows long consultation between the countries, the Volkskrant reports.

The countries involved in this decision are also the countries that make up the Joint Investigation Team investigating the disaster - Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine. When the trial will start is still unknown. The criminal investigation is still ongoing.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014. All 298 people aboard were killed, including 196 Dutch. So far the investigations by the JIT and the Dutch Safety Board determined that the plane was shot down by a Russian BUK missile system that was fired from a field controlled by pro-Russian separatists. 

Russia vehemently denies involvement, pointing to the finger to the Ukraine.

In 2015 the Netherlands asked the United Nations to set up a special tribunal to prosecute the perpetrators responsible for the disaster. That proposal was blocked by Russia. A second proposal was a tribunal made up of the countries in the JIT. But that proposal was rejected due to the law differences in the countries involved. For example, Malaysia still has the death penalty, and there are many differences in Ukrainian and Dutch law. 

So the decision to hold the trial in the Netherlands. A point in the country's favor is that the court in The Hague is well equipped to handle international cases, as it already does so. This could speed up the process.  A downside, according to the Volkskrant, is that Russia may question the impartiality of Dutch judges, given the high number of Dutch victims. It may also complicate the extradition of the suspects, especially if they turn out to be Russian.