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Terrorists

Relatives of victims mark 5th anniversary of MH17 downing


Story by MIKE CORDER

Story   Source

Published on September 18, 2021 3:53 AM
 
 
VIJFHUIZEN, Netherlands (AP) — With songs, speeches and solemn silence, relatives and friends on Wednesday commemorated the 298 passengers and crew killed five years ago when a missile blew Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 out of the sky above war-torn eastern Ukraine.

Central to the memorial service at a Dutch monument to the MH17 disaster was the reading of the names of all those who died when a Buk missile shattered the Boeing 777, which was heading from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, as it passed over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014.

It took nearly a half hour for family and friends — some choking back tears — to read out the names and ages of the victims.

"Miss you sis," said Monika Beaujean, as she read out the name of her twin sister, Gaby Lauschet from Sydney, Australia.

Beaujean travels each year from her home in Brisbane to be at the annual memorial services.

"She's my twin sister, and when that happened I thought I'm losing a wing," she said. "And for me it is so important to come back to try to fly with one wing, and I'm hoping that I can do that one day."

The service, attended by more than 1,000 people, happened at a monument surrounded by trees, one planted for each victim, close to Schiphol Airport, where the passengers boarded the flight.

Nearly 200 of the victims were Dutch; the others came from a variety of countries, including Malaysia, Australia, Canada, Britain and Belgium.

In the five years since the plane was shot down, a Dutch crash investigation ruled that a Buk surface-to-air missile brought down the Boeing 777.

A separate criminal investigation concluded that the missile system was trucked into Ukraine from Russia.

Last month, a Joint Investigation Team made up of detectives from the Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia, Ukraine and Belgium said it will prosecute four suspects, in their absence if necessary, at a trial set to start in March.

The suspects are three Russians with links to their country's intelligence services and a Ukrainian who led a separatist combat region in Ukraine's Donetsk region.

They are charged with involvement in the murder of all those who lost their lives. The team said...

BACKGROUND

On 17 July the European Union's representatives José Manuel Barroso and Herman Van Rompuy released a joint statement calling for an immediate and thorough investigation. The EU officials also said that Ukraine has first claim on the aircraft's black boxes.

The International Civil Aviation Organization announced, on 18 July, that it was sending its team of experts to assist the National Bureau of Air Accidents Investigation of Ukraine , under Article 26 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation. The United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 2166 on 21 July, regarding an official crime investigation into the incident. On 24 July 2014 the ICAO issued a State Letter reminding signatory states of their responsibilities with respect to the safety and security of civil aircraft operating in airspace affected by conflict.

Memorials

After the crash, memorial services were held in Australia and in the Netherlands, which declared 23 July, the day when the first victims arrived in the country, a national day of mourning, the first since 1962. The opening ceremony of the AIDS 2014 conference, on 20 July, of which several delegates had been on board Flight MH17, began with a tribute to the victims of the crash. In Malaysia, makeshift memorials were created in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur.

On 17 July 2017, exactly three years after the crash, a memorial in memory of the victims was unveiled in Vijfhuizen, the Netherlands. The opening of the memorial, which is located just outside Schiphol Airport, was attended by more than 2000 relatives of victims, King Willem-Alexander and his wife Queen Máxima, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Minister of Security and Justice Stef Blok and the speakers of the Dutch Senate and House of Representatives. The memorial includes 298 trees, one tree for each victim.

On 17 July 2015, a year after the crash, sunflowers seeds taken from a field near the crash site were grown in tribute to the 15 residents of Hilversum, including three families, who were killed. Amid the ongoing war, Fairfax chief correspondent Paul McGeough and photographer Kate Geraghty collected a keepsake of sunflower seeds from the wreck site for family and friends of the 38 Australian victims, which happened to be viable and had therefore germinated.

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