On 28 September 2016 the Chief Prosecutor leading the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), which investigates the downing of the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 aircraft in July 2014, presented the first findings of the JIT which concerned the type of missile which was used as well as the location from which it was fired.
After this presentation, the most complex part of the investigation has yet to come, namely the identification of the individuals who are possibly responsible for this act. Without clear and precise evidence as to individual criminal responsibility, a successful prosecution is not likely either before an international court or a national court. This type of responsibility requires, in this case, evidence as to the asserted command structures, potential orders and the level of knowledge or even criminal intent when it concerns the downing of a civilian aircraft.
It remains to be seen whether a prosecution can be successfully pursued.
Indicative for this latter complex subject-matter was the call of the JIT for so called insiders to come forward, potentially in exchange for a type of criminal impunity or mitigation of punishment. This call may suggest that the JIT has not yet sufficient evidence for the prosecution of specific individuals, apart from having identified a "group of hundred individuals" who may be potential suspects or witnesses.
Directly after the downing of the MH17, the Dutch government endorsed the view that the perpetrators should be brought to justice and that it would do everything within its power for these perpetrators to be convicted.
Bearing in mind the complex stage in which the investigation has arrived and considering the public appeal made by the JIT, it remains to be seen whether a prosecution can be successfully pursued.
It would have been prudent for the Dutch government to have shown more legal reality when expressing its views, even more so in order to avoid expectations it can potentially not live up to.