REUTERS

Pre-trial hearings in the case against three Russians and one Ukrainian began in Amsterdam last week, Reuters recalls.

Prosecutors allege that the defendants helped to arrange the Russian missile system used to shoot down the civilian aircraft, killing all onboard. Of the 298 victims, most were Dutch.

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The next hearing on March 23 will be closed to press and relatives of the victims, and the number of prosecutors and lawyers allowed into the court room will also be limited, the court said.

Thereafter the case is scheduled to continue in June.

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.

The trial in the Netherlands started on March 9.