Downing of MH17: is the trial sensible?

The trial for the downing of passenger flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine almost six years ago begins today in a criminal court at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport. But the defendants, three Russians and one Ukrainian, are in Russia and not present at the trial. Dutch media debate whether despite these circumstances the procedure will be worthwhile.

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NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

A symbolic trial

When all is said and done little is to be expected from the trial, NRC Handelsblad puts in:

“The most important outcome of this trial must be to establish the truth. Whether justice can then be done in practice depends on the trial's political ramifications: compensation, damages, admission of guilt - provided Russia sees an advantage to such developments. If the Dutch court is convinced of the burden of proof, the end result will be a judgment that weighs in heavily in terms of moral authority. ... However, criminal law has nothing more to offer than the power of the judgment handed down.”

De Telegraaf (NL) /

We won't let up on this

The trial must be brought to a successful conclusion despite all the uncertainties, De Telegraaf insists:

“The Russians have consistently tried to torpedo the search for the truth with their cynical power politics. Suspects are protected. The trial is likely to drag on for years and its outcome is uncertain. Nevertheless, this is about sending an important signal. After his initial hesitation, Prime Minister Mark Rutte showed firm resolve in 2014. ... The message to Russia is clear. Perhaps it won't be possible to follow the usual sequence of events - locating the perpetrators, arresting them and then putting them on trial - but the Netherlands is standing firm. And we're not going to let up on this.”