Three Russians and a Ukrainian rebel commander are to be tried in absentia starting on Monday (March 9) on suspicion of involvement in shooting down the airliner on July 17, 2014.
All 298 people - most of them Dutch - on board the Boeing 777, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, were killed, in the incident involving a Russian-made missile. The victims also included 38 Australian citizens and residents as well as 43 Malaysians.
In a statement released on Saturday (March 7), the Malaysian Foreign Ministry said it "welcomes the commencement of the court trial of 4 suspects in the downing of MH17, at the District Court of The Hague, the Netherlands, 9 March 2020."
It described the imminent start of proceedings as "a significant milestone" in establishing the truth and "finding justice" for those onboard.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Saturday the trial will be a step towards achieving justice and accountability.
"While nothing can bring back those who lost their lives, Australia will continue to fight for justice for the victims of MH17 and their families," Morrison said in a statement on Saturday with Foreign Minister Marise Payne.
"The Australian Government remains steadfast in its commitment to pursuing justice and accountability for MH17," the statement said.
The government is also supporting the Dutch prosecutions, including funding the Australian victims' families to participate in, travel to, or otherwise have meaningful access to the trials, it said.
Russia's Foreign Ministry meanwhile denounced the trial as having a pre-determined guilty verdict.
The trial comes after a five-year investigation by the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team, comprising Australia, Belgium, Ukraine and Malaysia, which implicated a pro-Russian rebel group in Ukraine's Donetsk region in perpetrating the shooting with a Buk surface-to-air missile system allegedly acquired from neighbouring Russia.
The Russian government has adamantly denied allegations of involvement in the incident. - dpa/Asian News Network