Thursday 28 October 2021

MH17 families express anger, sorrow as court case continues

A reconstruction of the wreckage of MH17 by the Dutch Safety Board.

Relatives of the victims of the MH17 disaster began giving evidence about the impact of the tragedy on their lives in the first of 10 days of scheduled hearings on Monday.

‘My life has stopped. I have no future with my children, only memories,’ said a tearful Peter van der Meer, addressing the court. His three daughters, aged 7, 10 and 12, were killed when flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine in July 2014.

A total of eight relatives spoke during the first day of three weeks of hearings dedicated to victim impact statements. Ninety relatives from eight countries are expected to speak and hundreds more have submitted written statements.

Three Russian men and one Ukrainian man have been charged with 298 counts of murder for supplying the Buk missile which the prosecution service says was fired at the Boeing 777. The passenger airliner was shot down over eastern Ukraine en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam.

‘Seven years ago, you broke my family in the worst way possible. Seven years on, I will not let you break my spirit,’ said Vanessa Rizk, in a direct address to the four defendants. Both of her parents were killed in the disaster, returning home to Australia from a European holiday. She and her brother James spoke to the court via a video link.

Ten days of hearings have been set aside for relatives of the victims to tell the court how the death of their loved ones has affected their lives. The trial on the merits of the case started in June and is expected to run until late 2022.

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