More than 90 relatives of the victims of the MH17 tragedy are due to give evidence over the next three weeks in the latest stage of the trial.
The passenger airliner was shot down over eastern Ukraine in July 2014 en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam. 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.
‘Your narrative opens your emotions up to all concerned, we cannot get closer to your grief than that,’ presiding judge Hendrik Steenhuis told the court at the outset of the hearing.
Ria van der Steen, who lost her father and stepmother, is the first person expected to speak. She is a board member of the survivors’ organisation Stichting Vliegramp MH17.
Ninety relatives from eight countries are expected to address the court directly, either from the high-security courthouse near Schiphol Airport, where the flight departed from, or by video link. Eight to 11 speakers are expected every day and each will be given 15 minutes. Hundreds more have submitted written testimony.
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