AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Relatives of the 298 people who died when a Malaysia Airlines jet was shot down over Ukraine in 2014 on Monday asked judges presiding over the Dutch murder trial looking at the crash to provide clarity over the alleged role of Russia in the incident.
Piet Ploeg, whose brother, sister-in-law and nephew died in the crash, told judges to look specifically at Russia’s role in the Ukraine conflict.
“We want to know what happened, why it happened and who was responsible: from the person who pushed the launch button to the highest-ranking person responsible, maybe in the Kremlin,” Ploeg said.
Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was hit by what international investigators and prosecutors say was a Russian surface-to-air missile likely fired by pro-Russian militias.
Ploeg criticised the lack of Russian cooperation in the MH17 probe and the eventual trial as well as “years of misinformation, alternative theories, denials and untruths”.
Russia denies any involvement with the crash. The suspects, three Russians and a Ukrainian national, remain at large but one of them has sent lawyers to represent him.
Dutch media reported last month that lawyers representing the families of MH17 victims had been offered protective measures after being subjected to intimidation.
The trial is set to continue in December with the prosecution’s closing statements and a verdict is expected next year.
(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg, editing by Ed Osmond)