Dutch officials monitoring Covid-19 situation with MH17 trial looming

Dutch District Court Press Judge Yolande Wijnnobel says authorities are keeping a close eye on the Covid-19 situation.

AMSTERDAM: The Dutch judiciary expects the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) trial on Monday to go on as planned despite a spike in the number of Covid-19 cases here recently.

District Court Press Judge Yolande Wijnnobel said the judiciary will be monitoring the latest developments on the outbreak of the virus in collaboration with the health authorities.

“We’re keeping a close eye on that. We have the RIVN (Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment) here, which is following the developments and making recommendations, which we are applying.

“So if there are any developments, we will inform you or we will put it on our website. But right now, it’s business as usual, the case will proceed as planned,” she told reporters at Schiphol Judicial Complex’s press centre yesterday.

Officials had earlier this week advised people to skip the MH17 hearings if they were showing symptoms of Covid-19 and had recently travelled to areas where the illness has spread.

Hundreds of relatives of the victims and journalists have registered to attend the hearings at a special high-security courtroom near Schiphol airport. The proceedings will be broadcast by video stream.

The Netherlands recorded its first death from Covid-19 yesterday, involving an 86-year-old man from Hoeksche Waard who had tested positive for the virus on Tuesday.

Forty-six new confirmed cases in the Netherlands took the cumulative number of positive Covid-19 patients in the country to 128 as of Friday night, a sharp increase from 24 cases just last Tuesday.

MH17 was shot down with a Russian-made surface-to-air missile over eastern Ukraine in 2014, killing all 298 passengers and crew.

Four suspects – three Russians and a Ukrainian – have been named. One of them is set to be represented by two Dutch lawyers while the other three are expected to be tried in absentia.