It’s been a harrowing journey for hundreds of Australians to investigate what happened in the MH17 disaster and bring the perpetrators to justice.
A pandemic, a war and almost a decade later, they may finally get their answer this week when a Dutch court rules on the murder trial of four suspects in the downing of the Malaysia Airlines flight.
Prosecutors say one Ukrainian and three Russian defendants – all who remain at large – helped supply the missile system that Russian-backed separatists used to shoot the plane down over Ukraine in 2014.
All 298 people on board were killed, including 38 Australian citizens or residents.
Australia joined the international effort to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Australian Federal Police assistant commissioner Peter Crozier will travel to The Netherlands alongside families and Australian officials to be in court when the verdict is delivered on November 17.
Oleg Pulatov is the only defendant taking part in the proceedings through legal counsel while Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinsky, and Ukrainian national Leonid Kharchenko are being tried in absentia.
But while no one is in the court standing trial, it’s still about justice for the assistant commissioner.
He says that having someone on the other side of the bench defending them means there’s an acknowledgement of the proceedings.
“It says you can’t get away with it. No one can act with impunity,” Assistant Commissioner Crozier said.
“What does it mean for the families? I hope it means someone has been held accountable for the loss they’ve experienced.”
It also gives the families the opportunity to find out what happened to their loved ones.
“If we weren’t able to do this through open court, we’d never have been able to bring forward some of this material to show what we believe happened,” Assistant Commissioner Crozier said.
The pandemic and war in Ukraine made the investigation harder.
But almost a decade on, the only silver lining is that the families, and Australia, haven’t lost sight of why they’re continuing to fight.
“It’s all about the families who have suffered such tragic loss,” Assistant Commissioner Crozier said.
“What’s been very fortunate in very difficult circumstances is that message has never been lost.”