'Loss and pain': Families testify at Dutch MH17 trial


FILE PHOTO: A protest sign stands next to rows of empty chairs, lined up by family members of victims of the MH17 crash line for each seat on the plane, during a protest outside the Russian Embassy in The Hague, Netherlands March 8, 2020. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A woman whose daughter was among 298 people who died when a Malaysian Airlines jet was shot down over Ukraine said on Friday she wanted to look the suspects in the eye and "make them feel our loss and pain".

Relatives of the victims of flight MH17, brought down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine in 2014, denounced the "senseless and brutal" deaths of their loved ones during the trial of four suspects accused in the disaster.

Their testimony concluded three weeks of statements from 90 relatives from eight countries. They told the judges about the impact of the loss on their lives and their hopes for justice.

Prosecutor Alwin Dam said many relatives have issues with the "amount of misinformation and conspiracy theories that are spread about MH17" and the fact that no one has claimed responsibility.

The plane was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was hit by what international investigators and prosecutors say was a Russian surface-to-air missile.

Jeanne Hornikx's daughter Astrid, 31, and Astrid's partner Bart, 40, were among those on board.

Hornikx showed the judges a tattoo of her daughter's fingerprint, saying "that is how she was identified".

"I would like to look the suspects straight in the eye and make them feel our loss and pain. That our suffering becomes their suffering, that maybe grief shared - and remorse - can become grief halved," Hornikx said.

Dutch prosecutors have brought charges against three Russians and a Ukrainian citizen, all suspected of having key roles in transporting the missile system. They went on trial for murder last year.

Two-thirds of the victims were Dutch citizens and the Netherlands blames Moscow for the attack.

Russia, which maintains that it has not funded or supported pro-Russian rebels fighting Ukrainian government troops, has refused to extradite the suspects. Only one defendant has appointed a lawyer.

The court adjourned until November with the prosecution closing statement expected on Nov. 15, judges said. A verdict will likely be handed down late next year.

(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg; Editing by Anthony Deutsch and Giles Elgood)

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