Second week of surviving relative statements in MH17 trial
The MH17 trial will continue on Monday with day five of ten days set aside for surviving relatives to have their say. In the disaster on 17 July 2014, all 298 people on board the plane were killed. A total of over 90 relatives indicated that they wish to make use of their right to speak.
In the first week, dozens of relatives (fathers, mothers, children, brothers and sisters) took the court with them in their grief in emotional stories. In some cases, the stories were recited by the next of kin's lawyer or by someone from Victim Support. In many statements, photos of the victims were shown in court.
The father of 30-year-old Laurens van der Graaff told the court how he somehow convinced himself in the first weeks after the disaster that his son was still alive. "Laurens was in such good shape. He must have survived the fall and landed softly in a haystack," Wim van der Graaf said in the court at Schiphol on Friday. The past seven years changed him, he added. "I've started to look at the world differently. I still don't have a satisfactory answer to many questions."
The family of young couple 23-year-old Bryce Fredriksz and 20-year-old Daisy Oehlers is still struggling enormously with their grief to this day. "The bodies were left in the blazing sun. Our children were among them," mother Silene Fredriksz said in court on Thursday. "I heard them screaming in my nightmares: Mom, come get me." In the end it took weeks for parts of Bryce to be identified, and months for Daisy. "All parts were badly burned, but I recognized bits of Daisy's blouse. It was our children until the bitter end."
"They were only seven, ten and twelve years old. I have no future with my daughters anymore, only memories," father Peter van der Meer said last week Monday about Sophie, Fluer and Bente who were on flight MH17 with their mother. "I coached them, made pigtails in their hair and taught them how to sail. I lost everything in one fell swoop. What stings most is that I don't know exactly what happened and why. I want justice and I want my daughters never to be forgotten."
The Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine. International investigation showed that this was done with a BUK missile system, likely fired by pro-Russian separatists who did not realize it was a passenger plane.
The Public Prosecution Service is prosecuting four men, three Russians and a Ukrainian, for their alleged involvement in the disaster. These are rebel leader Igor Girkin, his right-hand man Sergei Dubinsky, his assistant Oleg Pulatov and garrison commander Leonid Chartshenko. Only Pulatov is represented by lawyers, the others have said nothing.
The massive lawsuit began in March last year. The court does not expect to be able to make a ruling before the autumn of 2022.
Reporting by ANP.