First court hearings in the case of the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in Donbas in the summer of 2014 have started in the Netherlands today, March 9.

Read alsoRelatives of MH17 victims stage rally outside Russian embassy in The Hague

The trial against the first four suspects in the case began at a special high-security courtroom near Amsterdam's Schiphol airport at 11:00 (Kyiv time) on Monday.

The sessions are broadcasting live on the official website.

Presiding judge is Hendrik Steenhuis. Judges Dagmar Koster and Heleen Kerstens-Fockens are also present there.

The Public Prosecution Service of the Netherlands is prosecuting the four suspects for bringing down the airplane.

Dutch-based Sjöcrona Van Stigt took over the defense of one of the suspects in the MH17 case, Oleg Pulatov. Russian lawyer Elena Kutina is expected to also attend the hearings.

Relatives of the victims believe that the trial will help bring to justice the representatives of the Russian political and military elite involved in the aircraft crash.

UNIAN memo. Malaysia Airlines' MH17 Boeing 777 heading from Amsterdam for Kuala Lumpur was shot down on July 17, 2014, over Russia-occupied territory in Donetsk region. All 298 people on board who were citizens of 10 countries were killed in the crash. The majority of the victims, 196, were citizens of the Netherlands. The Dutch Safety Board October 13, 2015, issued a report on the causes of the accident. It was revealed that the plane had been shot down by a Buk anti-aircraft missile system.

The Joint Investigation Team in its report published on September 28, 2016, confirmed that the plane had been downed by a Russian-made Buk brought to Ukraine from Russia.

On June 19, 2019, JIT investigators accused four Russia-controlled military intelligence officers of involvement in a missile attack that shot down MH17. The first four suspects in the MH17 case are Russian terrorist Igor Girkin (AKA "Strelkov"), who in the summer of 2014 was the so-called "Minister of Defense of the Donetsk People's Republic" ("DPR"); Russian General Sergei Dubinsky (nom de guerre "Khmuryi"), who led the "DPR intelligence;" Oleg Pulatov (nom de guerre "Gyurza"), who in 2014 headed of "the 2nd division of the GRU of the DPR;" as well as Leonid Kharchenko (nom de guerre "Krot"), who was a leader of the "reconnaissance battalion" of Russia-led forces.