MH17 trial: Families of victims call on Russia to admit involvement
In The Hague, 11 relatives of the MH17 victims are having their say in court on Tuesday, September 21.
Some relatives spoke via video link, while some attended the courtroom in person, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.
“I hope that perpetrators will apologize, that Russia will admit its guilt. It is especially difficult to see how Russia disinforms and imposes lies over lies. We hope that the court will shed light on what happened,” the mother of one of the victims stressed in court.
The woman declined to identify herself and said she only wanted that the name of her murdered child, Eline Marieke Vranckx, be voiced.
During her speech, she showed a photo from her daughter’s funeral ceremony and some of her belongings retrieved from the tragedy site.
“I speak today as a mother who has lost a daughter. This changed my life forever. The fact that a passenger plane was shot down by a Buk missile is a crime for which those responsible must be held accountable. My daughter will never be a bride, a mother… Those who shot down the plane deprived her of this [opportunity]. I won’t be a grandmother. We are deprived of this. Time has stopped for me… She had bought a towel, along with her friends – their names were embroidered on it. I recognized it in the catalog of [passengers’] belongings and I brought it today as a symbol that a beautiful life can be torn to pieces,” the woman said.
Some of the relatives could not find the strength to address the court in person, so their lawyers spoke on their behalf. Presiding Judge Hendrik Steenhuis was trying to help relatives tackle emotion.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down over the occupied area of Donetsk region on July 17, 2014. There were 283 passengers and 15 crew members on board. All of them died.
The international Joint Investigation Team reported that the plane had been shot down from a Buk missile system that belonged to the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade of the Russian Armed Forces stationed in Kursk.
On June 19, 2019, the JIT named four suspects believed to be involved in the transportation and combat use of the Buk missile system, from which MH17 flight had been downed. Three of them are Russians: Igor Girkin (Strelkov), former colonel in Russia’s FSB intelligence service and former so-called “defense minister” of the self-styled “Donetsk People’s Republic”; Sergey Dubinskiy, general (at the time of downing – colonel) of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces and head of the self-proclaimed “Main Intelligence Directorate of the Donetsk People’s Republic”; Oleg Pulatov, lieutenant colonel of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces. The fourth suspect is Leonid Kharchenko, a Ukrainian civilian, who fought on the side of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic.”
In March 2020, the District Court of The Hague began the consideration of the case over the downing of Flight MH17.