- Australian Vanessa Rizk slams Russian government in victim impact statement
- Ms Rizk was just 22 when parents Albert & Maree Rizk were killed in MH17 crash
- Boeing 777 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down
- 298 people were killed including 38 Australians when a missile struck the plane
An Australian woman who lost both her parents when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down has given an emotional testimony to a trial of the men charged over incident, and blamed the Russian government.
Vanessa Rizk’s parents Albert and Maree Rizk were killed when the Boeing 777 they were travelling in on a regular passenger flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down by a missile over eastern Ukraine in 2014.
At that time, pro-Russian rebels were fighting the Ukraine armed forces for control of the eastern part of the country, including Crimea.
In an emotionally charged statement read to the Dutch court on Monday Ms Rizk directly challenged the Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government as part of the ‘political nightmare’ that lead to the crash.
‘How would they feel if their life was caught up in a political nightmare that their country wasn’t even involved in?’ Ms Rizk told the court via video link from Australia.
‘How would Putin and his corrupt Russian government answer that.
‘To the perpetrators, seven years ago, you broke up my family in the worse way imaginable,’ she continued.
‘Seven years on, I am determined that you will never, ever break my spirit and capacity to live and love, just as my parents would have wanted me to.’
Ms Rizk was just 22 years old when she and her brother James lost both their parents in the downing of flight MH17.
She is one of the many Australians due to submit verbal or written testimony to the trial over the next three weeks.
Under Dutch law relatives are allowed to provide victim impact statements without being subjected to questioning.
Russian nationals Oleg Pulatov, Igor Girkin and Sergei Dubinsky, and Ukrainian citizen Leonid Kharchenko are all being tried in absentia for murder. Only Pulatov has legal representation.
There were 298 people killed in the shooting down of flight MH17, among them were 38 Australians.
The traumatised families of the crash victims demanded justice from Russia on Monday as they testified in the Dutch trial of four suspects.
People who lost children, parents and siblings in the crash of the Malaysia Airlines plane said they could not truly say goodbye to their loved ones until those responsible had been brought to book.
International investigators say a Russian-made missile was fired from an area of eastern Ukraine held by pro-Moscow rebels and brought down the Boeing 777, but Russia has denied all involvement.
Ria van der Steen, who lost her father Jan and stepmother Nell, said she was quoting from the Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn: ‘They are lying, we know they’re lying and they know that we know that they’re lying.
‘I am full of feelings of revenge, hate, anger and fear,’ said Van der Steen, who was the first to testify.
‘I know they are dead and I will not see them again, but I can’t put an end to this process of saying goodbye, certainly not until those who are responsible for their deaths are found to be guilty for what they have done.’
Van der Steen told the court of recurring nightmares, like walking through the debris after the crash to search for her father.
‘When I eventually find him, I have to tell him that he has died, and then I wake up crying,’ she said.
Around 90 relatives, both from the 196 Dutch victims of the crash as well as those from Australia and Malaysia, are expected to address the court in the coming days.
A tearful Peter van der Meer told the judges that he had lost his ‘life and his future’ following the death of his three young daughters Sophie, 12, Fleur, 10 and Bente, aged 7, along with his ex-wife Ingrid.
‘I hope the perpetrators will feel an urgency to speak up after the story I have told you today, so that they can look in the mirror and don’t have to lie to their children or grandchildren about what they did on July 17 2014, he said.
Van der Meer said he stopped celebrating the Dutch holiday of Saint Nicholas after the death of his daughters. ‘It’s a festival for children. I don’t feel like celebrating it any longer. I have no children,’ he said.
Another witness, Robbert van Heijningen, who lost his brother Erik, sister-in-law Tina and their 17-year-old son Zeger, said the perpetrators knew ‘they were shooting a vulnerable civil airliner from the sky, like a clay pigeon, without a chance.’
Sander Essers, whose brother Peter, his sister-in-law Jolette Eusink and their two children Emma, 20 and Valentijn, 17 were killed in the crash, said his brother phoned him 20 minutes before the flight departed ‘with a feeling of foreboding.’
‘I blame myself for not taking his premonition seriously. I have sleepless nights because of it,’ said Essers.
Head judge Hendrik Steenhuis set September 22, 2022 as a possible date for the verdict in the trial, but gave alternative dates in November and December of that year.
By : MIRIAH DAVIS FOR DAILY MAIL AUSTRALIA and AUSTRALIAN ASSOCIATED PRESS