MH17 disaster survivors look back ten years later: ‘Unjust’

MH17 disaster survivors look back ten years later: 'Unjust'

It has been almost ten years since Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 passengers and crew on board. Survivor Anton Kuti lost his son, daughter-in-law and grandson in the disaster. The backpack brought back by Remko, his youngest grandchild, still reminds him of this terrible event every day.

Remko’s backpack was delivered intact to Kuti’s home by police after the disaster. The Malaysia Airlines tag is still stuck on it. “It’s still easy to read,” Kotey says, looking at the label. “His name is still on the back.”

‘This is a mistake’

The plane was shot down by a Russian Buk missile over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014. Of the 298 victims, 196 passengers had Dutch citizenship. The plane was on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, and most of them were vacationers on board. Son Oscar (43), daughter-in-law Miranda (42) and grandson Remko (6) were also looking forward to their vacation in Indonesia.

It was a beautiful, sunny summer day, Coty recalls. The moment he opened his iPad and saw a big plane on the front page, he knew immediately: “This is wrong.” He describes the deaths of his son, daughter-in-law and grandson as an injustice. “They didn’t get to experience 10 years of their lives. And I, as an old boy, do. It was deliberately taken by these crazy people over there on the eastern border.”

Since the disaster, Kotey has been fully committed to supporting his relatives and seeking justice. As treasurer of the MH17 Aviation Foundation, he was pardoned eight years after the disaster, in November 2022, after three of the four suspects in the extended MH17 trial were sentenced to life in prison.

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Outgoing Foreign Minister Hanke Bruins-Sloat finds it admirable that Kotey, along with others, have worked tirelessly to achieve justice for a decade. “To ensure that the perpetrators are punished.” The government is doing everything in its power to achieve this, according to the outgoing minister, “but their efforts are irreplaceable.”

The flag will be lowered to half-mast on July 17, exactly ten years after the disaster. The entire House of Representatives approved the move during a debate on Thursday. “Another thing we should do together is thank the Ukrainian people who helped recover the wreckage,” says Bruins Slot. “Many Dutch people helped with this and they got the proper recognition, but it’s also important to see how we can give these Ukrainians the proper recognition.”

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“What happened is disgusting and it is good to think about it,” Bruins Slot stressed. “We must punish not only those who did it, but also Russia itself for this terrible catastrophe.”

Read also:

MH17 silent protest with empty seats in front of the Russian Embassy

Written by: Rick Hartkamp

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