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‘Political nightmare’: Families of MH17 victims direct anger at Russia

“Seven years on, I am determined that you will never, ever break my spirit.”

MH17 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur July 17, 2014 when it was hit by what international investigators and prosecutors say was a Russian surface-to-air missile that originated from a Russian base just across the Ukrainian border.

Van der Steen made the remarks about lying in Russian, explaining that she did so “for the benefit of those who are listening in on behalf of the Russian regime today”.

“I want it to be known that I know where the responsibility lies,” she said, adding that “lying and falsehoods are a familiar tactic in this game of cat and mouse through which we are aspiring to uncover the truth”.

A lawyer representing victims’ families, Peter Langstraat, said he believed next to the verdict that this opportunity was “one of the most important days for the family members”.

“…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,” he said.

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

Russia, which maintains that it has not funded or supported rebels fighting Ukrainian government troops, has refused to extradite the suspects.

After years of collecting evidence, a team of international investigators concluded in May 2018 that the launcher used to fire the missile belonged to Russia’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade.

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 in shooting down the flight.

The fugitive suspects have been on trial for a year and a half. Only one, Pulatov, sent lawyers to represent him so the case was not considered to be entirely tried in absentia under Dutch law.

Judges said on Monday they expected to issue a judgment in late 2022.

AP, Reuters

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