Relatives of victims of MH17 exercised right to be heard
Over a period of three weeks a total of 91 relatives testified about the impact the crash has had on their lives. Arlette Schijns, Laura Kroese and Irene Timmermans, members of Beer advocaten’s aviation team stood by the relatives during this immensely difficult period. Before the hearings the relatives were as well prepared as possible for what to expect. As part of that preparation, for instance, they could check out the room where the hearing would be held.
The right to be heard has been available to victims for some time in the Netherlands. This, however, was the first time this right was exercised in this form and by so many people. This marked a historic point in the evolution of victims’ rights in Dutch criminal proceedings. 91 relatives addressed the court. It was incredibly important to them that they got this opportunity to speak at the hearing and to share the impact of the downing of the MH17 on their lives not just with the justices, but with the rest of the world as well. In exercising their right to be heard, the relatives could also share their views of the criminal offence, the question who is to blame, and the punishment of the suspects.
Experience shows that justices set great store by the stories of surviving relatives and their written statements, and that this can play an important part in helping relatives work through their traumas.
In November 2021 the hearings were resumed, and the claims for compensation outlined in more detail.
Also read the interview in letselschade.nu of April 2021 in which Arlette Schijns talks about the MH17 proceedings, and the double interview with Arlette Schijns and Maarten Kunst in the newsletter of Nederlandstalige Vereniging voor Psychotrauma.