The trial of Russians Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov and Ukranian Leonid Kharchenko has begun over the fatal downing of Malaysian Airlines flight 17.
Three Russians and a Ukranian brought a "deadly weapon" into Ukraine where it was fired at MH17 killed all 298 people aboard, a court has heard.
The trial of Russians Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov and Ukranian Leonid Kharchenko began in the Netherlands on Monday over the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight 17 on July 17, 2014.
All 298 aboard died when the plane was hit by a surface-to-air missile fired from a Buk-TELAR allegedly put in place by the four defendants.
A solemn roll call of the hundreds who died in the MH17 disaster brought raw emotions to the surface for their families.
Prosecutor Dedy Woei-A-Tsoi read out the names of all 298 people who died in the 2014 disaster, including 38 who called Australia home, at the Schiphol Justice Complex on Monday.
Australians recall painful memories
Sydneysiders Serge and Vera Oreshkin, who lost their 29-year-old son Victor in the crash, said the roll call was upsetting.
"That brings the day that I heard it on the phone, brings the memories back (from) five-and-a-half years ago when I received that morning phone call at work," Mr Oreshkin said outside court.
His wife said it was a very heavy and very upsetting day.
"However, we are glad to hear our son's name to be remembered," Mrs Oreshkin said.
"He's not forgotten," her husband added.
Australian Federal Police commander Jennifer Hurst said the roll call had been incredibly moving.
"You could have almost heard a pin drop in that room and I think what was significant for us was the amount of time it took to read the names out and that gives a real indication of the significant and absolute atrocity that happened on that day," she said outside court.
Melbourne artist Angela Nagel, whose 48-year-old husband Marco Grippeling was also on board MH17, fought back tears as she explained how important the trial is to her.
Mr Grippeling, who was a Dutch citizen, had lived in Australia for nine years before he was killed.
"It's like me making a stand for him and saying 'we haven't forgotten you' and that Australia is still here for me and for him," Ms Nagel said.
The continuing work of the international Joint Investigation Team, backed by the Australian government, was so important to all the families of victims, she added.
"There's so much more that's gone on in the world over the six years and a lot of Australians aren't aware that there are still Australian federal police over here working tirelessly and that it's still a daily tragedy for those family and friends involved, that we've had no justice, that we're still in this terrible grief, that why it's really important today," Ms Nagel said.
"I'm trying to go on with my life, which is really difficult."
Dutch prosecutor Dedy Woei-A-Tsoi says the four accused who are being tried in absentia, face charges of murder and the destruction of a civilian airliner.
"In more than one country in the world, mainly Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, the Philippines, Israel, Italy, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Romania, the United Kingdom, the United States, Vietnam and South African, all mourn for the demise of their citizens," she told the court.
"In the opinion of the Public Prosecution Service they organised ... that a deadly weapon, a Buk-TELAR, was transferred into eastern Ukraine, as well as arranging that Bul-TELAR was (to be) brought to a location from which a Buk missile was launched that hit flight MH17.
"Subsequently, they all saw to it that the deadly weapon was returned."
Earlier, Judge Steenhuis reflected on the impact of the disaster on the families and friends of the dead in his opening remarks.
"The court realises the impact of the loss of so many lives and the manner in which they so abruptly ended is barely conceivable," he said.
The judge said the trial was likely to stretch into next year, with the case file containing 36,000 documents and enormous number of multimedia files.
He said defence lawyers for Pulatov, the only defendant being represented in court, had only presented to the court in January.
"That really means they've had but a brief space of time to prepare for this hearing," the judge said.
Judge Steenhuis said victims would be given the floor to tell the court about the impact of the disaster on their lives and up to 84 would claim compensation.
"The fact that since years have gone by ... means that for the next of kin and for other people a great deal of patience has been required," he said.
"I'm quite sure that especially for next of kin this will be very painful and emotional period. There are many victims and because of that there are many next of kin."
'MH17 murderers were delighted when plane came down'
As the trial began to unfold today, a Dutch prosecutor told the court that the four accused men who where "delighted" when MH17 was shot down must face ordinary criminal law over the disaster.
Netherlands prosecutor Ward Ferdinandusse said Girkin, Dubinsky, Pulatov along and Kharchenko did not push the button to fire the missile that destroyed the passenger plane.
Despite that, he said the four played a co-ordinating role in the disaster.
All are former rebel fighters for the Russian-backed Donetsk People's Republic in Ukraine.
"They were in command of others; they directed the Buk-TELAR (missile launcher) to the launch location; they talked during intercepted communications about the need for a Buk to serve their cause and whether 'their' Buk had done its job," Ferdinandusse told the trial at the Schiphol Justice Complex on Monday.
"They noted with delight that an aircraft has been shot down; they directed others in the delivery of the system to the launch site and they organised the removal of the Buk-TELAR to the Russian Federation."
Ferdinandusse said the four were criminally liable because they were not regular military personnel at the time.
"Groups that fight independently or do not respect the laws of armed conflict are therefore excluded (from legal protections)," he said.
"Like any other civilian, members of such armed groups are not allowed to use force. The ordinary criminal law applies to them just like anyone else. The same applies for soldiers who pretend to be ordinary civilians."
Earlier, Ferdinandusse explained how victims' families had first heard of the news but then had to wait before identifying and burying their loved ones due to the fluid situation on the ground in Ukraine.
"The loss of loved ones left deep wounds in the lives of the victims' families," he said.
"Their loss was compounded by the delay they faced before they could say farewell. The uncertainty of whether a loved one's remains could be brought home. The shock they felt if it did happen - often on successive occasions. The grief they felt if it didn't happen."
He said the criminal trial has come as relief for some of the next of kin, while for others it will be heavy burden to bear for relatives, some who feel hopeful and others who feel their wounds reopening.
"Wounds that even in the best circumstances will not heal quickly," he said.
"The experience varies strongly from one person to another. And all those emotions, however different, are perfectly understandable."
Ferdinandusse also noted that residents of the Ukrainian village of Hrabove, where the plane crashed, had been traumatised by the disaster.
"Many of them were directly confronted with the horrific consequences of the downing of flight MH17," he said.
"Wreckage and bodies fell from the sky, sometimes straight through the roofs of their houses."
Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/world/mh17-trial-three-russians-plane-downing-deadly-weapon-malaysia-news-world/5fdc917f-c301-4f7f-b1b9-493dc2da20e4