THE HAGUE – The murder trial of three Russians and a Ukrainian accused of involvement in the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 will be closed to the public and media when it briefly resumes later this month in a Dutch courtroom.
The decision announced Tuesday to close the March 23 hearing comes after Dutch courts said they would shut down until April 6 for all but urgent cases because of restrictions introduced by the government to fight the spread of the coronavirus
The landmark trial of the suspects in the July 17, 2014, downing of the Boeing 777 over eastern Ukraine began earlier this month in a courtroom packed with visitors, including family members of some of the 298 passengers and crew killed. None of the suspects showed up for the trial, which continued in their absence.
A temporary media center was built next to the court for the hundreds of journalists who attended the trial.
At the next session, the three-judge panel hearing the case will rule on requests made by prosecutors and defense attorneys for one of the suspects. The case will then be adjourned until June 8.
While public and media will not be allowed to attend, the hearing will be streamed online.
The flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia was shot down by a Buk missile fired from territory controlled by pro-Moscow separatist rebels. Prosecutors say the missile and launcher were driven into Ukraine from a Russian military base and the launcher was driven back to Russia after the downing of flight MH17. Russia denies involvement in the downing.