MH17 trial begins

Trial MH17 begins
Photo credit: Eindhoven News Media Library/OmroepBrabant

The in absentia trial against four MH17 suspects started yesterday at the high-security court at Schiphol Airport.

Three Russians and one Ukrainian are suspected of murdering the plane’s 298 occupants. Of the victims, 50 were from Brabant. Their relatives regard the start of the trial with mixed feelings.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by a BUK missile on 17 July 2014. The plane was en route from Schiphol to Kuala Lumpur. According to the Public Prosecutor, the missile system originated in Russia. The attack was, allegedly, arranged by the four men, who are now in the dock. These are the Russians, Oleg Pulatov, Sergey Dupinsky, and Igor Girkin, and Leonid Khartschenko from Ukraine.

Relatives speak out

Anton Kotte, who lives in Eindhoven, lost his son, daughter-in-law, and grandson in the disaster. On Monday, he was present in court, representing Stichting Vliegramp MH17 (the MH17 Air Disaster Foundation). He is looking forward to the start of this major case. “Five and a half years ago, at the first meeting for next of kin after the disaster, we established a goal.”

At the time, he addressed a crowded room filled with the victims’ relatives. “We owe it to our loved ones to bring this whole process to a successful conclusion. With the start of the criminal case, that goal is now being reached,” he now says. Anton believes, “Justice will be served.”

For Joyce de Roo from Helmond, it is a day she has been looking forward to a long time. “Those who have had this on their conscience should be punished.” De Roo lost her father in the plane crash. On Monday, she followed the first court session along with hundreds of other relatives at a conference center in Nieuwegein.

She still hopes the suspects will appear in court, although that chance seems very slim. “I do not know what to expect,” she said about the first day’s proceedings. “We will see.” Jeanne and Bart Hornikx’s daughter and her boyfriend perished in the crash. “We have been warned that (the case) could go either way,” says Jeanne.


Some relatives choose to stay at home. One of them is Martijn Martens. The crash not only claimed his sister. His brother-in-law, nephew, and three nieces were also killed in the disaster. “I am glad the case is going to court.”

“But I hate that the suspects can only be sentenced by default.” Martens has chosen to follow the first days of sessions via an online livestream. Please note, this broadcast is in Dutch.


Translator: Chaitali Sengupta, who gives Inburgering classes in Meerhoven. Click here for more info.

Editor: Melinda Walraven

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