AMSTERDAM – United by grief across oceans and continents, families who lost loved ones when Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down in 2014 hope that a trial starting next week will finally deliver something that has remained elusive ever since: The truth.
A trial starts Monday in the Netherlands for three Russians linked to their country’s security and intelligence services and a Ukrainian rebel commander. They are accused of mass murder for their alleged roles in shooting down the Boeing 777 on July 17, 2014, as it passed over conflict-torn eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 passengers and crew.
For the families of the victims, the trial is the latest development in a constant stream of news since they received devastating phone calls telling them that their loved ones had been killed.
Silene Fredriksz-Hoogzand’s life as she knew it ended that summer day.
Her son Bryce and his girlfriend Daisy were killed when a missile fired from territory controlled by pro-Russian rebels tore the passenger jet apart, sending wreckage and bodies raining down onto fields of sunflowers in eastern Ukraine. The debris field spread across some 50 square kilometers (20 square miles).
"It never will return to normal,” Fredriksz-Hoogzand said. “There's a life before and a life after."
Pictures and mementos of the young couple still adorn the walls of the house in Rotterdam where they lived with Fredriksz-Hoogzand and her husband, Rob. The couple’s bedroom remains as it was the day they left, heading for a holiday in Indonesia.
On Monday, they will head to a conference center to watch the trial proceedings with other relatives from around the world. The actual courtroom is close to Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport where the flight known as MH17 had taken off, heading for Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.