MH17 victims have been given a voice and face, court says
The victims of the MH17 disaster have been given "a voice and a face" through the stories told in court by more than ninety surviving relatives, the chair of the court said on Friday. A total of three weeks was allotted for family to speak. It was the last day during the extensive criminal case in which the victim statements could be considered.
The court chair said that the right to speak had been used "in a special way". The stories created a deep impression, he said. The judges and other people present in court were visibly emotional on several occasions over the past three weeks. The chair called the bereaved "courageous" and said their "candid and personal" stories were "impressive". The chair said the court was "allowed to take a look at their lives before July 17, 2014."
More than ninety relatives made use of their right to speak in recent weeks. They arrived at the court at Schiphol, spoke via a video connection or pre-recorded a message. Some relatives also had their statement read out by their lawyer.
The disaster with flight MH17 on July 17, 2014 killed all 298 people on board, including almost two hundred Dutch people. The Public Prosecution Service is prosecuting four men, three Russians and a Ukrainian, for their alleged involvement in the disaster.
The Malaysia Airlines aircraft was shot down over eastern Ukraine. International investigations have shown that a Buk missile brought the plane down, likely fired by pro-Russian separatists who did not realize that it was a passenger flight.
The criminal case will continue on November 1. Even then, a handful of relatives will probably still exercise their right to speak. From November 15, the indictment from the Public Prosecution Service will follow, containing the sentence recommendation against the four suspects. A ruling is not expected before autumn 2022.
Reporting by ANP