The Dutch government announced Wednesday that it will prosecute the suspects accused of shooting down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) over Ukraine in 2014.
MH17 was blown out of the sky July 17, 2014 on a routine commercial flight from Amsterdam to Kuala-Lampur, killing all 298 civilians on board.
While the start date for the trial and the identities of the accused remain unannounced, Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders confirmed Wednesday that the trial will take place in the Netherlands after the criminal investigation is concluded. The joint investigation team includes Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine.
Each of the five countries had citizens among the 298 plane passengers.
Australia expressed support for the Netherlands handling the trial in a joint statement from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop.
“The joint investigation team’s decision to support a Dutch national prosecution will ensure that results from the investigation are taken into account and that justice for the victims and their families, including the 38 people who called Australia home, is delivered,” the statement read.
Russia blocked attempts in 2015 to set up an international court to investigate the MH17 tragedy. An independent Dutch investigation later confirmed that a Russian surface-to-air missile had downed the Malaysian airliner, mirroring the conclusions of the United States’ own investigation. (RELATED: Russian Connection To Destruction Of MH17 CONFIRMED)
The investigations refuted Russian claims that no missile existed and that the plane was never shot down. Russia had resorted to touting conspiracy theories for the cause of the shoot-down, including one that the CIA filled a plane with fake bodies and crashed it to discredit Russian separatists in Ukraine.
The Dutch investigation pinned the plane attack on pro-Russian separatists who had made well-documented phone conversations with Russian officials, requesting a missile launching system the day before MH17 went down.
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