Trial underway for Russian, Ukrainian suspects charged in downing of flight MH17

As the trial of three Russians and a Ukrainian charged with multiple counts of murder for their alleged involvement in the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 got underway Monday, a Dutch prosecutor solemnly read out the names of all 298 people killed in the attack.

As expected, the suspects didn’t appear for trial and weren’t in the courtroom as prosecutor Dedy Woei-a-Tsoi read out the victims’ names.

It took 18 minutes.

Some of the relatives of the dead who were in the courtroom bowed their heads and closed their eyes as they listened to the names.

“The silence in this room when the names were being read out of all those people who lost their lives makes abundantly clear that everybody is sitting here lost in their thoughts,” Presiding Judge Hendrik Steenhuis said before adjourning the hearing for a lunch break.

The trial began with Steenhuis explaining the intricacies of Dutch criminal proceedings to families monitoring the trial in the Netherlands and around the world and outlining efforts to summon the four suspects to attend.

None of them did and only one appointed lawyers to represent him in the case. Steenhuis ruled that the trial would continue in their absence.

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