SCHIPHOL – SCHIPHOL, NetherlandsA defense lawyer for a suspect in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine nearly six years ago said Monday that coronavirus restrictions have seriously hampered efforts to prepare the case.
Sabine ten Doesschate, a Dutch lawyer representing Russian suspect Oleg Pulatov, said flight bans and other restrictions linked to the pandemic “have had a major impact” on attempts to build a defense case, including preventing lawyers from flying to Russia to interview their client.
She said that meant defense lawyers aren't yet ready to make preliminary objections such as challenging the Dutch court's jurisdiction in the case.
Ten Doesschate spoke as the trial resumed for three Russians and a Ukrainian charged with involvement in shooting down the Boeing 777 that was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014.
Judges and prosecutors didn't immediately respond to the defense claims, which could lead to long delays in the trial that began on March 9. Coronavirus social distancing measures were in place in the courtroom, with judges and prosecutors separated from one another by glass screens.
All 298 passengers and crew were killed when a Buk missile fired from territory controlled by pro-Moscow separatist rebels blew the Malaysian passenger jet out of the sky.
None of the suspects have been handed over to face justice and none were present in a courtroom near the Dutch airport from which the doomed flight took off. The trial is taking place in the Netherlands because nearly 200 of the victims were Dutch citizens.
After Ten Doesschate spoke, prosecutors began giving judges an overview of the lengthy and painstaking international investigation into the downing of MH17.