AMSTERDAM, Mar 8, 2020, Malay Mail. Ahead of the much-anticipated MH17 trial tomorrow when the Netherlands tries four people over the downing of Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine in 2014, families of those on board still disappointed over Malaysia’s position in the probe outcome by the Joint Investigations Team (JIT), Malay Mail reported.
Dutchman Piet Ploeg, who lost his older brother, sister-in-law, and nephew in the tragedy, was referring in particular to former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s stand last year in June when he cast doubts over JIT’s probe outcome.
Dr Mahathir, who resigned just two weeks ago, had said that he wanted strong evidence to show that Russia is responsible for the downing of the flight and labelled JIT’s finding as hearsay at that point.
While JIT is set to renew their agreement today after two years, Ploeg — who is also the chairman of the Dutch MH17 Disaster Foundation — said it was important for the Malaysian government or prosecutor to still support the JIT team moving forward.
“We were really shocked at his (Dr Mahathir’s) position. Malaysia is a partner with JIT up to today. The Malaysian government supports the results but Dr Mahathir does not support? If it was our Netherlands prime minister who says he does not support JIT, he will be fired the next day.
“Until now we don’t understand Dr Mahathir’s stand and we are really angry about it because you are doubting the integrity of investigations where your own country is taking part. I feel sorry for the next-of-kin in Malaysia when their own prime minister (former) says these kinds of things,” said Ploeg who has written to the former PM twice asking for clarification.
Another next-of-kin, Anton Kottem who started the initiative to build a MH17 monument here and who also lost his son, daughter-in-law, and six-year-old grandchild, questioned the timeliness of Dr Mahathir’s remark last year.
“Did you know when he said this to the Malaysian people? When he just returned from Russia and then he made that announcement,” Kotte said.
The signing of the new JIT agreement tomorrow will continue to consist of five countries as before, which is the Netherlands, Australia, Malaysia, Belgium, and Ukraine.
Kotte added said this is an important signal moving forward for the case despite tomorrow’s trial.
“The agreement will be renewed so that investigations can continue despite Monday’s trial. JIT is still going to look for more suspects (accomplices).
“It will be signed between the governments of each country or the judicial authorities,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ploeg also clarified that JIT has no role in Monday’s trial as they have handed over their files to the public prosecutor.
A total of 283 passengers, including 80 children, and 15 crew members were on board. This most awaited trial is crucial for families all around the world who lost their loved ones.
The Netherlands lost 193 people of their own while Malaysians lost 43 onboard.