SCHIPHOL, Netherlands (AP) — A lawyer for relatives of victims killed when Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine in 2014 told trial judges Monday that the families want damages as a recognition of the injustice they suffered and told judges that Russian “disinformation” compounds their grief.
Lawyer Arlette Schijns was speaking at the resumption of the Dutch trial in absentia of three Russians and a Ukrainian charged with offenses including mass murder for their alleged involvement in the downing of MH17.
All 298 passengers and crew on board the Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur were killed when the plane was blown out of the sky on July 17, 2014, by a Buk missile fired from territory controlled by pro-Russia rebels.
Schijns, who is representing 450 relatives, urged the court not to lose sight of the suffering of the hundreds of people who lost their loved ones as she addressed the judges on legal questions linked to families’ right to claim damages.
“This is about individuals who were confronted six years ago with a terrible loss that continues to have an influence on their lives today,” she said.
Some families watched Schijns speak from a public gallery in the court on the edge of the airport from where the doomed flight took off.
“The criminal trial is important for them because it will establish the facts of what happened on July 17, 2014. Who is responsible for it? What sentence they deserve,” she said. “In other words, it’s about justice, fairness, crime and punishment.”
Rob Fredriksz, who lost his son Bryce and Bryce’s girlfriend Daisy Oehlers, agreed. Fredriksz said he wasn’t being represented by Schijns.
“It’s not about the money, it’s about the truth. That’s what we want,” he said outside court.