Dutch families plant first trees at MH17 memorial park

Volunteers and relatives of those killed in the MH17 disaster in 2014 planting trees in Vijfhuizen, The Netherlands, yesterday. The park, set up in memory of the victims, mostly Dutch citizens, will have 298 trees, one for each person on board. Dutch
Volunteers and relatives of those killed in the MH17 disaster in 2014 planting trees in Vijfhuizen, The Netherlands, yesterday. The park, set up in memory of the victims, mostly Dutch citizens, will have 298 trees, one for each person on board. Dutch investigators say the plane was shot down by a missile fired from a part of Ukraine then controlled by pro-Russian rebels.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

VIJFHUIZEN (Netherlands) • Relatives of those killed when Flight MH17 was downed over Ukraine in mid-2014 have planted the first trees in a Dutch memorial park not far from where the ill-fated plane departed.

"Today is a very important day for all the next of kin. We are planting the first trees... to create a monument for MH17," Mr Evert van Zijtveld, chairman of the MH17 victims' foundation, who lost a son, daughter and his parents-in-law in the crash, said. "We are planting the trees to ensure their memory will not be forgotten and to remind us that we still want justice for MH17."

The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 passenger jet was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, killing all 298 on board, most of them Dutch citizens.

Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders, who also planted a tree, said: "The 298 trees will remind us of each life that was stolen on July 17 that year."

The park, in the shape of a giant ribbon consisting of apple, ash and hawthorn trees among others, lies a few kilometres from Schiphol airport, from where MH17 took off.

A Dutch-led investigation into the attack concluded in September last year that a missile, transported from Russia, was fired from a field in a part of war-torn Ukraine then controlled by pro-Russian rebels, and hit the plane. But it stopped short of saying who pulled the trigger.

AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 20, 2017, with the headline 'Dutch families plant first trees at MH17 memorial park'. Print Edition | Subscribe