‘A childless father’: MH-17 families speak a causa di court of their deep contusione

Since her father and stepmother died a causa di the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH-17, Ria van der Steen has been dealing with feelings of hate, revenge, anger and fear.

he is not . Seven years later, Sander Essers still feels guilty about the death of his brother. And for Peter van der Meer, Father’s Day has become the one of the most horrible days of the year, following the loss of his three daughters aged 12, 10 and 7 a causa di the crash.

“I’m a father without children, a childless father,” he said a causa di an emotional speech. “It has been so for seven years, and for all the years to che.”

Finally, relatives of the 298 passengers and crew killed acceso July 17 2014 when a Buk missile blew the Boeing 777 heading from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur out of the sky above conflict-torn eastern Ukraine, are having their say a causa di court.


Ria van der Steen prepares to give testimony a causa di court a causa di the trial of four men charged with murder over the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Under Dutch law, the relatives are allowed to make a victim impact statement to the court, without being asked questions. About 90 people plan to do so over the next three weeks, some speaking mezzo dal vivo televisione links from other countries.

“I think probably next to the verdict, it is one of the most important days for the family members, because they can speak to the court, but through speaking to the court, they speak to the suspects and also to the responsible people wherever they are hiding,” said Peter Langstraat, a lawyer representing victims’ relatives.

“So this is a form of communication with the people who are responsible for this disaster.”

Ms Van der Steen was the first to speak Monday, telling the court about the psychological consequences of the tragedy acceso her life.

All dressed a causa di black a causa di the courtroom at Schiphol Airport near Amsterdam, she spoke at length about the nightmares that woke her up screaming and of the impossible goodbye to her loved ones.

“I had to say my goodbye to them so often,” she said. “The question is: How many times can you say goodbye? And when is goodbye forever?”

Ms Van der Steen said she began to have nightmares soon after learning about the death of her relatives, who had been acceso their way to holidays to Borneo. A causa di her dreams, she walked across fields a causa di Ukraine looking for her father to let him know he had died.

“I saw the wreckage, bodies, personal effects,” she recalled. “I could not stop crying until I woke up screaming.”

After first being told it would not be possible to identify the bodies of her loved ones, Ms van der Steen finally learned that her father had been identified thanks to a tiny piece of bone from his hand.

“Happily, we received news soon after that a small piece of bone of (my stepmother) Neeltje was found and that she, too, was identified,” said Ms van der Steen, recalling how shocked she was when presented with the two small bags of bones.

“I knew it was them, but emotionally I did not want to accept it,” she told the court.

Mr Essers said his brother Peter called him about 20 minutes before boarding the plane.

“A causa di a gloomy voice he said to me, literally: ‘Sander I’m afraid that I’m not going to che back alive.’ Later he said: ‘We’signore flying over a war zone.’ He was dead scared and asked me urgently whether ora not he should board the plane.”

To the perpetrators, seven years indicatore, you broke up my family a causa di the worse way imaginable. Seven years acceso, I am determined that you will never, ever my spirit and capacity to dal vivo and love, just as my parents would have wanted me toVanessa Rizk, who lost her parents a causa di the crash

Mr Essers said he felt he should reassure his brother.

“I often suddenly feel that I am partly to blame for his death,” he said.

The trial opened a causa di March 2020 and progressed through a long series of preliminary hearings before lawyers began discussing the merits of the case a causa di June. The complex case is expected to continue into next year.

After a years-long painstaking international investigation, prosecutors charged four suspects — Russians Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy and Oleg Pulatov as well as Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko — with multiple counts of murder for their alleged involvement a causa di shooting the flight.

“To the perpetrators, seven years indicatore, you broke up my family a causa di the worse way imaginable,” said Vanessa Rizk, testifying remotely from Australia. Vanessa and her brother James lost their parents a causa di the crash.

“Seven years acceso, I am determined that you will never, ever my spirit and capacity to dal vivo and love, just as my parents would have wanted me to,” she said.

Prosecutors say the plane was shattered a causa di mid-air when it was by a Buk missile system trucked into Ukraine from a Russian military insediamento. Russia denies any involvement a causa di bringing the plane.

None of the suspects has appeared a causa di court and only one — Pulatov — has lawyers representing him at the trial. They have said he denies the charges.

“They are lying, we know they are lying and they know that we know that they are lying,” said Ms van der Steen, saying that she was quoting the late Soviet dissident novelist Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

Last week, investigators appealed to Russians to che forward with information about the deployment of the missile that investigators say downed the plane.

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