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Outside a Russian embassy, empty chairs for MH17's victims

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 02:12s - Published
Outside a Russian embassy, empty chairs for MH17's victims

Outside a Russian embassy, empty chairs for MH17's victims

The families of those killed when Malaysia Airline Flight 17 was shot down over rebel-held Ukrainian territory place empty white chairs in front of Russia's embassy in The Hague, on the eve of a murder trial.

David Doyle reports.

Rows of empty white chairs were placed in front of Russia's embassy in The Hague on Sunday (March 8) - a silent reminder of those who died in Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

The protest was carried out by families of the victims, on the eve of a trial - in absentia - of four men for murder over their involvement.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) YOUNGER BROTHER OF MH17 VICTIM, PIET PLOEG, SAYING: "They will see this behind their curtains, but they never stepped out of the embassy to talk to us." Piet Ploeg's older brother Alex died in the crash.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) YOUNGER BROTHER OF MH17 VICTIM, PIET PLOEG, SAYING: "The idea of the action is to make perfectly clear to the Russian state that they have to cooperate with the investigation." MH17 was shot down over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine in July 2014.

International investigators say it was hit by a Russian missile sent to help Moscow-backed rebels fighting Ukrainian government forces.

All 298 people on board died, including 196 Dutch citizens.

Russia has been named politically responsible by the Netherlands and Australia but denies any involvement.

That, as well as its vote to block the establishment of a UN court for MH17, has angered relatives.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) NIECE OF MH17 CRASH VICTIM, LUCY VAN DER KERK, SAYING: "And what hurt us, what was hurting also very much was that the Russians tried to cover everything up, and that when it happened, nobody could go to the bodies and nobody could go to the things and that hurts." The empty chairs, one for each victim, are also meant to symbolize the suspects' absence from court.

Arrest warrants were issued last year for three Russians and a Ukrainian identified by a Dutch -led Joint Investigation Team which said they did not pulled the trigger but had colluded to bring down the plane.

The four, who had senior positions in pro-Russian militias, are believed to be in Russia which will not extradite them.

Embassy officials did not comment.

Last week a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin said the Kremlin would wait for the outcome of the trial, but that it doubted the objectivity of the Dutch-led investigation.




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