Anniversary of MH17 crash honored with ceremonies in Vijfhuizen, Hilversum
The victims killed when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed will be commemorated on Sunday afternoon in Vijfhuizen and Hilversum. The Boeing passenger jet was shot down over eastern Ukraine eight years ago after it departed from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. All 298 people on board were killed, including 196 Dutch citizens.
The plane was shot down during the period immediately following Russia’s invasion of Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine. Evidence uncovered during multiple international investigations showed that a Russian buk missile unit was responsible for downing the aircraft.
The annual commemoration will be the first time since 2019 that relatives of the victims can reunite at the National Monument in Vijfhuizen. Ceremonies held in 2020 and 2021 were either moved online or otherwise adjusted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The next of kin will read the names of all the victims who died that day. Piet Ploeg, the chair of the foundation Vliegramp MH17, will give a speech.
In Hilversum, a commemoration will be held for the fifteen inhabitants of the Noord-Holland city who lost their lives as a result of the disaster. Mayor Gerhard van den Top and Pastor Jules Dresmé from the Catholic Church will each give a short speech.
The former mayor, Pieter Broertjes, will read off the names of the Hilversum victims. Sunflowers will be placed at the Hilversum MH17 monument in the presence of a number of relatives.
A criminal trial into the downing of the flight has been ongoing in the Netherlands for over two years. Public prosecutors pressed a case against four suspects, Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy, Oleg Pulatov, and Leonid Kharchenko. Three of the four are Russian military, except for Kharchenko, who was a Ukrainian battalion leader at the time that supported the Russian-backed separatist movement. He was allegedly reporting to Pulatov.
Only Pulatov presented a defense during the trial. Prosecutors recommended that each suspect be convicted and sentenced to life behind bars.
A verdict in the case could be presented on 17 November at the earliest.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times