The Hague hosted a regular session of the 17th district military court in the case of the crash of the Boeing MH17, at which the relatives of the victims spoke. Broadcast was conducted on the court website.
The first to speak was a citizen of the Netherlands, who lost her father and stepmother in the disaster. He began his speech by reading in Russian a quote from Solzhenitsyn’s “Gulag Archipelago”: “They are lying, we know that they are lying, and they know that we know that they are lying.”
“I know who is responsible. I quoted Solzhenitsyn in Russian for the representatives of the Russian regime. I lost my father and stepmother, who were flying to Indonesia, the country they loved. We have seen a lot of delays and fakes, but I will not make political statements. I will talk about my father and his wife. I said goodbye to them many times. The first time was when I received a call on July 17, 2014 and was informed that the plane had been shot down.
I didn’t believe and hoped that they would call me and they would return. I couldn’t really say goodbye. I started having nightmares. I walked through the fields in Ukraine looking for my father, but I saw only debris and bodies. It smelled of fire and death. I walked through the sunflowers and called my father. I saw him, he smiled at me and asked what I was doing here. I said I was looking for him and that he died when his plane was shot down. I started crying and crying until I woke up screaming. The nightmares recurred for months, day after day.
In November, I was informed that they would not be identified. We decided to arrange a funeral service where their friends and relatives can somehow say goodbye. But one day at the end of November I came home and there was a family liaison officer. I was hoping for something good. I was told that my father was identified, but I will not be able to get his body. Only part of the bone was found from his father’s hand, although he was six feet tall.
On August 20, 2015, we went to get the remains. I saw two small boxes, there were two small sacs of bones. I pressed my bones to me and I don’t know how long I stood like that. Logically, I understood that it was them, but I did not want to accept. We went to Limburg, where they lived, for the cremation. I had to say goodbye to them again, although they only returned to me.
As I left, I turned around and said, “Goodbye, Dad, goodbye, Nell.” But soon I had to say goodbye again. I watched footage from the airport before boarding for hours trying to find my parents. I saw only for a moment as they walked past the store. Then I found another important shot for me when they passed the gate, turned the corner and left my life. I watched the footage dozens of times, hoping that they would turn around and say goodbye. But, of course, this did not happen. Then they were not yet ready to say goodbye to me.
For years I tried to come to terms with the death of my father and Nell. I do not know if it will work out, I try to let them go, but I am still full of hatred, anger, fear that justice will not prevail. I can’t finish saying goodbye, at least until those responsible are found guilty.
My father was strong and silent, he preferred to do rather than speak. He was always busy and always worked for his family, boss, friends, even on weekends. On weekends, I went with him in a car. He told interesting stories – he worked with gas and electricity. I remember how we were sitting in the car, my father clapped me on the knee and we smiled. So he said “I love you.” He was the third son in the family, sailed on a dry cargo ship, but decided that the sea was not his. He had many professions, he loved to work with his hands.
My father became less quiet when he met Nell, my second mother. I did not recognize my father, he had sparks in his eyes. They had a new home, where his family and friends appeared. Nell brought her father happiness, he always wanted to be near her. The three of us loved to chat. Nell was not taciturn, and neither was I.
I am the first of my relatives to speak, but there are thousands of such stories, 298 deaths have brought pain to thousands of people, ”the woman said in court.
The second was a girl from Australia, who lost her mother and father in the crash.
“Our parents were returning from vacation, they were ready to return and tell friends and family about their adventure, but it turned out to be a tragedy. I got a call at 8:30 in the morning and was told to turn on the news, my father wrote me a message just a few hours before that they were at the airport and waiting for boarding. I called my father, he did not answer. I called my friends, they were on a different plane. I sat on my brother’s bed and watched the news. Then I received confirmation that they were on MH17. My world has turned upside down.
What would those who committed this think if their relatives died, died in a war in which their country does not even participate. What would Putin and his corrupt regime think?
The damage that has been done to us is unimaginable. I have no choice, I have to learn to live with their deaths. Likewise, the killers left our parents no choice to live or not. We were not left with the opportunity to live with them. My two month old son will never see grandparents.
In court, murder always has consequences. I ask the court that the victims and their families receive justice.
I appeal to those who have committed a crime. 7 years ago you broke my family. Now I will do everything so that you do not break my spirit, and so that I live the way my parents taught, ”said the girl.
The next speaker was a citizen of the Netherlands, who lost his brother in the crash.
“My brother Peter was on the plane. He never did what he wanted all his life. He waited until retirement to sail with his grandchildren by sea to Brazil. He was selfless, best friend and supportive. Peter built his first boat from blueprints at the age of 19. He retired in 2013 and bought a yacht. We were ready to sail to Brazil, but first he wanted to go on vacation with his family.
He always told everyone that it was safe to fly. 20 minutes before landing, Peter called me and said that he was afraid because they would fly over the zone of military conflict. I decided to calm him down. He told me to keep writing songs. I feel responsible, he has entrusted his fate to my hands twice for the call. I know that some of the passengers may have been awake. Peter, perhaps, was flying and was afraid, and at the moment of the impact he realized that all fears were confirmed.
My niece and nephew died with him. We took upon ourselves the organization of mourning, the organization of the inheritance (I helped Peter’s two daughters from his first marriage, because I knew that he would fight for them to the last). Alas, the distribution of the inheritance is still dragging on.
The attack changed my life and made it hard. My girlfriend, family and friends, and the government helped me a lot. Under Ukrainian law, I am not entitled to compensation, but the most important thing for me is facts, justice and lessons that can be learned. I follow the process closely and I am sure that it is as honest and comprehensive as possible, ”said the man.
The court also read a message from a relative who had lost his son and grandchildren in the crash and did not want to be present at the meeting.
“The catastrophe became for us an amputation without anesthesia, an earthquake exceeding the strength of the Richter scale. When we received reports of the identification of the body fragments of our son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren, we could not believe it, but in the end we had to descend to the ground like that plane. We had to accept the reality that our son, daughter-in-law and their children were brutally murdered. We buried four coffins, and a few months later we had to bury another part of Rob’s body.
We didn’t find the strength to speak and asked our representative to do it, ”the message says.
The District Military Court of The Hague is considering the case of the downed Boeing. Among the defendants are four members of the unrecognized DPR – Russians Igor Strelkov, Sergei Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko. The court will have to answer the questions “Was MH17 shot down by Buk?”
The Insider asked experts from the Conflict Intelligence Team to analyze the data published by the court from the case materials, including new evidence of the involvement of the Russian military and mercenaries.