Relatives of the 298 people who died when Malaysian Airlines flight 17 was shot down have accused Russia of lying about its role in the incident.
The allegations were made during the murder trial in The Netherlands of four suspects Russia has refused to extradite.
International investigators concluded that the missile which downed the plane over rebel-held territory in July 2014 was fired by pro-Russian militia in the Ukraine conflict.
Ria van der Steen, whose father and stepmother were killed in the disaster, said of Russia: “They are lying, we know they are lying and they know that we know they are lying.”
Ms van der Steen spoke in Russian “for the benefit of those who are listening on behalf of the Russian regime today”.
She added that she was citing the dissident Soviet-era writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
“I want it to be known that I know where the responsibility lies,” Ms van der Steen 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”.
MH17 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia when it was shot out of the sky by what investigators and prosecutors say was a Russian surface-to-air missile.
While Russia has denied all responsibility, the Dutch government holds Moscow responsible.
The trial started over a year ago, and Ms van der Steen is the first of 90 bereaved family members from eight countries to give testimony.
Australian Vanessa Rizk, who lost both of her parents in the crash when she was 22, said Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government were part of the “political nightmare” that led to the incident.
“I still cannot fathom that our family is caught up in a frustrating and deadly political crisis,” she said.
Opening statements were only made in June, with the time proceeding being taken up by procedural issues.
Three weeks have been set aside to hear from relatives, with around a hundred written statements also provided.
The suspects in the trial are Russians Oleg Pulatov, Igor Girkin and Sergei Dubinsky, and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko.
Only Pulatov has sent a lawyer, to prevent the case being tried completely in absentia under Dutch law.
In May 2018 it was concluded that the launcher used to fire the surface-to-air missile belonged to Russia’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, and was launched from a Russian base, across the Ukrainian border.
The downing came in the months following the Ukrainian revolution, and the subsequent annexation of the Crimea peninsula by Russia.
Source: Read Full Article