REUTERS

Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Yevhen Yenin says the UN International Court of Justice will hand down a final ruling on the MH17 downing case by late 2023.

"When we talk about the MH17 case, we must clearly distinguish between the tracks within which the investigation of the tragedy is taking place. The first is the criminal-legal bloc, this is the court in The Hague, which is holding hearings on progress of further investigation, which were postponed until April. Another area, in which Russia is being prosecuted as a state, in particular under the Terrorist Financing Convention, is Ukraine's lawsuit against Russia in the International Court of Justice. And all these processes run in parallel lines, they have differences, but they are all aimed at bringing to justice both the Russian government, its military-political leadership, and specific perpetrators," he told Ukraina 24 TV channel.

Yenin says it remains unclear when exactly the MH17 downing trial will complete in the Netherlands.

"We can only proceed from the schedule of court hearings, the fourth stage of hearings has been defined, i.e., in fact, almost all of 2021 is set aside for them. We should not forget the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) continues its work, and we cannot rule out additional charges. Regarding the hearings in the UN International Court of Justice – we are seeing attempts by Russia to hamper transition to the consideration on merits, referring to COVID-19 and difficulties in formulating their legal position. Today we have a schedule of all procedures in court that are sent to lead to a final ruling by late 2023," the official said.

Background

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.

Read alsoMH17 downing: Netherlands not to blame Ukraine for open skies over DonbasOn 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 "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 MH17 trial process began on March 9, 2020.