The trial of four men accused of involvement in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in July, 2014, has moved to the crucial merits phase.
The accused, three Russians and one Ukrainian national, will appear on Monday in a court in the Dutch city of Schiphol where evidence will be discussed by lawyers and judges.
The Boeing 777 plane was traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down over war-torn eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people onboard.
Families of some of the victims were present in court to watch the latest hearing in the long-running case.
Since opening in March 2020, the trial has progressed through a series of preliminary hearings, and will in the coming days begin examining the huge case file pieced together after a years-long international investigation.
“The file consists of about 65,000 pages and many hundreds of hours of visual and audio material. It’s such a large case that it’s simply not possible to speak about every detail,” Presiding Judge Hendrik Steenhuis said at the start of Monday’s hearing.
The first discussions of evidence are scheduled for Tuesday.
The four suspects were not in the courtroom near Schiphol Airport and are being tried in absentia. They face life sentences if convicted of murdering the passengers and crew who died when the aircraft was blown out of the sky above eastern Ukraine.
The international investigation concluded that the plane was destroyed by a Buk missile fired from territory controlled by pro-Russia separatist rebels.
The investigation said that the missile was brought into Ukraine on a mobile launcher from a military base in Russia. But Russia has denied any involvement in the tragedy.
The three Russians charged with involvement in the downing are Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy and Oleg Pulatov, as well as Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko.
Only Mr. Pulatov is being represented by defense lawyers, who have told the court he is innocent.