Relatives of those killed when flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine exactly a year ago joined emotional memorials as calls mounted for a UN-backed tribunal to prosecute those responsible for the tragedy.
All 298 passengers and crew — the majority of them Dutch — died on July 17 last year when the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, on a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was downed over rebel-held east Ukraine during heavy fighting between Kiev’s armed forces and pro-Russian separatists.
Flags flew at half-mast in the Netherlands as about 2,000 relatives and friends gathered at a ceremony in Nieuwegein to mourn the victims of the disaster, many of whom were children on their way to summer holidays.
Kiev and the West point the finger at the separatists, saying they may have used a BUK surface-to-air missile supplied by Russia to down the plane. But Moscow denies involvement and instead accuses Ukraine’s military.
“There is nothing we can do, we can’t turn back the clock,” said Evert van Zijtvelt, who lost his 18-year-old son, Robert-Jan, and daughter Frederique, 19. “It has been a very heavy year.”
Sobs could be heard as relatives read out the names of all those killed and photos of the dead were shown on a giant screen accompanied by sombre piano music.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte assured the bereaved that justice would be done.
“The investigation into what exactly happened and everything that still needs to be done will be to do right by your loved ones,” Rutte told the gathering.