Families Want Court to Spell Out Russia's 'Despicable' Role in Downing Malaysia Air Flight

Piet Ploeg, who lost his brother, sister-in-law and nephew in 2014 when a Russian missile took down their plane, referred to Russia's attitude as "despicable" during the trial of four men allegedly involved in the tragedy, the Associated Press reported.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was downed on July 17, 2014, over Ukraine, the plane shattering in mid-air when it was hit by a Buk missile system from a Russian military base. Russia denies any involvement in the case.

"Years of disinformation, alternative theories, denials, distortions and refusal to face responsibility, noncooperation in the investigation and the criminal trial. That is the Russian Federation," Ploeg said.

Ploeg, chairman of the MH17 Disaster Foundation, is asking judges in the murder trial for their final verdicts against three Russians and a Ukrainian.

"I invite your court to talk explicitly about this in your verdict so that we can know—so the whole world can know—what caused our relatives' pointless deaths and what role the Russian Federation played in downing MH17," Ploeg said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Piet Ploeg
Piet Ploeg, who lost his brother, sister-in-law and nephew in 2014 when a Russian missile took down their plane, referred to Russia's attitude as "despicable" during the trial of four men allegedly involved in the tragedy. Above, Ploeg at Schiphol airport, near Amsterdam, Netherlands, on March 10, 2020. Peter Dejong/Associated Press

Ploeg was one of the last of scores of relatives to tell judges about his loss as part of the murder trial of four suspects, none of whom have been arrested and sent to the Netherlands to face justice.

Under Dutch law, relatives are allowed to make a victim impact statements to the court without being asked questions. Starting in September, dozens have done so, some speaking via live video links from other countries.

Their statements have given the court a glimpse of the emotional anguish of relatives since a Buk missile blew the jet out of the sky above conflict-torn eastern Ukraine. All 298 passengers and crew were killed.

While traces of Ploeg's sister-in-law and nephew were found at the crash site and sent back to the Netherlands for formal identification, no part of his brother was ever recovered.

"I find it difficult to accept that my brother's mortal remains have disappeared or are somewhere far away and that I will never be able to say farewell to what remains of my brother," Ploeg told the court.