Families of MH17 victims prepare to go to Europe for trial

Before retired Wollongong teachers Carol and Michael Clancy departed on their first holiday in Europe in 2014, they left their trip schedule with family to let them know where they would be.

The last entry of their schedule read: "Home sweet home."

They never made it home. They were among 298 passengers and crew killed when Malaysia Airlines flight 17 was shot down over Ukraine on July 17, 2014.

More than five years later, family of the couple are preparing to travel to Amsterdam to sit in a court's public gallery next month to watch the start of the criminal trial.

Lisa and Brian Clancy, from the NSW town of Singleton, will attend the opening days of the trial, which begins on March 9, because they want to see justice carried out and feel they owe it to their loved ones to be there. "Our lives have stood still since 2014. It has damaged thousands of families; just destroyed their lives," Mrs Clancy said.

They are travelling to Europe "under no illusion" that any of the accused will front court.

For the Singleton couple and other family, the passage of time has not made coming to terms with loss any easier. In fact, Mrs Clancy said she felt angrier about the injustice of the act, which claimed the lives of 38 Australian citizens and residents.

Jon and Meryn O'Brien, who lost their son Jack, aged 25, on MH17 also intend to attend the opening of the hearing with their daughter Bronwyn.

"We don't know what will happen in the first few days. There is a lot of uncertainty. We don't know what challenges will be put up.

"The prosecuting team have said they are expecting it [the trial] to take one and a half to two years but if there are challenges it could run for four to six years."

Massive preparations for MH17 trial revealed; Hearings spread over 25 weeks

The court case examining criminal responsibility in the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 will begin on March 9 at the heavily secured court complex at Schiphol airport. The case, officially assigned to the District Court in The Hague, will also provide a live stream of the court hearings, and a press center to accommodate up to 500 journalists and 300 workplaces.

The court has reserved 25 weeks for the trial. In 2020, those dates are March 9-13, March 23-27, June 8-July 3, and August 31-November 13. The court will also hear the case in 2021 from February 1 through March 26.

The surviving relatives of the 298 people killed will all be given an opportunity to speak in Courtroom D at the judicial complex.

Three judges will preside over the court case, with two more judges Acting in a reserve capacity.

Laws in the Netherlands were also modified to make it possible to conduct portions of the trial in English. Those testifying in the case who are not able to attend will be able to do so by live video.

Security was identified as a top concern, and thus anyone wishing to attend the hearings will have to pass a security screening to gain access to the building.

A new presentation about MH17

A new presentation about what the MH17 process is to be demonstrated in the Schiphol Judicial Complex. The court is going to provide more information about the MH17 process, for example, the planning during the first session days.

The Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia, Belgium and Ukraine are working together to conduct the international criminal investigation of the cause of the crash of flight MH17 and those thought to be responsible. On the basis of the criminal investigation the Dutch Public Prosecution Service (OM) took the decision on 19 June 2019 to prosecute the suspects.

The trial against the MH17 suspects starts in March 2020.