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MH17 trial can continue despite absent suspects, say judges

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Magistrates wait, on March 9, 2020 in Schiphol, before the opening of the trial of four men accused of murder over the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in 2014, even though the suspects are still at large. – The trial follows a half-decade long fight for justice by families of the 298 people who were killed when the jet was shot down over Ukraine by a Russian-made missile as it travelled from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. (Photo by Remko DE WAAL / ANP / AFP) / Netherlands OUT

Dutch judges ruled Monday that the trial of four suspects in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in 2014 could continue despite none of them turning up at court.

Proceedings could go ahead “in absentia” against three of the suspects — Russians Igor Girkin, Sergei Dubinsky and Ukrainian citizen Leonid Kharchenko, chief judge Hendrik Steenhuis said.

“We assume they have waived their right to be present since they do not value the right to be present,” Steenhuis said, adding that attempts had been made to issue summonses by post and social media.

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“The court will allow the due process to prevail in the case against Girkin, Dubinsky and Kharchenko and we will try them in absentia.”

A fourth suspect, Russian national Oleg Pulatov, would be represented by a lawyer but would not be present, the judge added.

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