Netherlands Public Prosecution Service has agreed to postpone hearings in substance of the Boeing MH17 crash case from this fall to February-March of next year as requested by attorneys and representatives of victims, prosecutor Ward Ferdinandusse said on Friday.
"If the legal team and representatives of relatives [of victims] need more time, the prosecution service will take it into account... Taking into account yesterday's letter from the council of relatives, we propose to approve a preliminary schedule of further substantive hearings and hold them in February-March of 2021 instead of this fall", Ferdinandusse said at a public hearing.
Ferdinandusse also said that prosecutors refused to look into viability of a scenario where the Boeing could have been downed by a Ukrainian military plane, as requested by attorneys of Oleg Pulatov, one of the suspects, Russian national. According to the prosecutor, considerations of an alternative scenario can only be launched if it is plausible, whereas all current evidence — including traces of damage on the plane and bodies, data from radars and intercepted phone talks — support the missile hit scenario.
"All this evidence suggest that the plane was downed by a Buk missile. Pulatov had to provide evidence that could refute this evidence", Ferdinandusse said.
Earlier this week, Pulatov's attorney Sabine ten Doesschate requested an inquiry into radar data to determine if any military aircraft were in vicinity of the downed Boeing on the crash day, claiming a precedent from 2001 when Ukrainian soldiers mistakenly downed Russian plane Tu-154.
Three other suspects — Russian nationals Igor Girkin and Sergey Dubinsky, and Leonid Kharchenko of Ukraine — have their cases ready for substantial hearings, expected to begin in the fall.
The Malaysian jetliner crashed in July of 2014 while flying over a conflict zone in Ukraine's east from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. All 298 people on board were killed. The prosecution believes that the plane was downed by a Russian missile launched from Ukraine's breakaway east.