In The Hague, court hearings continue in the case of the MH17 passenger aircraft shot down on July 17, 2014 over the territory of Ukraine. This disaster killed 298 people, including many children. Network analyst Vadim Lukashevich cited extremely emotional statements by relatives of the victims on his blog:
“Emotionally, these are perhaps the hardest words spoken within the walls of the court in The Hague in the MH17 case. That is why you should know this ...
This is what Rob and Silen Friedrichs, the parents of the deceased Bryce Friedrichs, said to the court in The Hague in the MH17 case..."
“Dear chairman of the court, gentlemen judges and representatives of the prosecutor’s office!
First, I want to thank you for giving me the right to appear in court and that I can exercise this right.
July 17 is a day that my family and I will never forget. It will forever remain imprinted in our memory.
July 17, 2014 is the day a piece of my heart was ripped out. My life has changed forever.
It is often said that a man should not cry.
I howled. I screamed, I was hysterical. They took my only son Bryce and his girlfriend Daisy away from me. They were shot down in the sky by a Buk missile. What should have been a dream vacation has become a nightmare. They ended up in a war to which they had nothing to do.
Our family's future has been destroyed. It is now a gaping void. We received a life sentence. All the great plans that Bryce and Daisy had, the joy that we could share with them - everything is destroyed.
We will never play football on Saturdays again. Never again will he call out to me "Dad, where are you?"
I will never hear your voice again. You will never play the guitar.
Never again will we laugh together.
We will never fry kebabs again.
How I miss him! I still cannot look at his photographs. I look past them. Every time I live that day over and over again. When I do something that we used to do together, I feel guilty.
When we celebrate Christmas, New Year, there are always two empty chairs at the set table.
Bryce and Daisy in my heart. They taught me a lot.
They lived for family and friends. Every Bryce's birthday we had a barbecue and every year all their friends got together.
When I write about this, I am mentally going back to that time again. My breath catches, my heart stops. I am torn by emotions, anger, I do not sleep well. I have problems with memory and concentration. The pain of loss is getting stronger and stronger. I can no longer live a normal life.
I see what a grief it is for my wife and my children and I can’t do anything about it.
Memories and images constantly appear in my memory. Landing planes with the remains of the dead. Funeral procession. Identified body parts that we have received over the course of several months. It was a shock every time. When the officer in charge of communication with the relatives of the victims called, I started to shake. But they are real professionals, they shared our grief with us.
... Every time I see a plane in the sky, I have a feeling of fear - it won't be shot down, will it?
As long as I live, my heart will bleed. But I hope for an honest verdict.
What saddens me most of all is that those who did this do not want to apologize. They deny everything. None of them take into account the feelings and pain of relatives. They are cowardly killers with no feelings and no conscience. They continue to lie and distort the truth. The most painful thing is their denial of their responsibility.
... Bryce and Daisy's body parts were sent to me. This is my reality. Do they realize what they have doomed their relatives to? Including me and my family?
War is always fierce. But the consequences of this massacre for me and my family are impossible to describe. This is not what I wish the worst enemy. It is unbearable to realize that despite the fact that the sentence will be pronounced, the criminals will continue to live peacefully without suffering punishment. And we will be left with our loss and pain.
The life of our family and other relatives of the victims is broken. The murder of our loved ones and loved ones left an open wound on our hearts. We got an amputation.
Whatever punishment is imposed on the accused by the court, it can never compare with the grief of the loss of innocent passengers on flight MH17.
I am especially annoyed that the defense side is making every effort to prolong the process. They do not talk about the essence of the matter and take long-exposed fakes for facts. However, they do not take into account the feelings of relatives.
All I and my family still have is to pray and hope for justice for Bryce and Daisy and for everyone who died on Flight MH17. It's only over for me when I close my eyes. I hope that then all my questions will be answered.
I will miss them for the rest of my life.
Who? What? Why?
We will never hear "Mom, we are home!"
I thank the court for calling to share my sorrow and pain".
Silena Friedrichs, Bryce's mother:
I came here with an urn containing the ashes of our children. I could not help but take it. So they will be there too.
Bryce was born on May 2, 1991. Rob already had three daughters from his first marriage and together we had a daughter. We were incredibly happy, especially Rob. After four daughters, finally a son. Three days after his birth, Bryce was picked up by an ambulance and had elevated bilirubin levels.
We were worried that we would not have time to find a suitable blood donor, but nevertheless we found and made a transfusion. His little heart was stopped and he was covered in tubes. We were very afraid of losing him. Fortunately, he coped with it and grew up a healthy child. But the feeling that I experienced when I almost lost my child never left me.
Bryce grew up as a normal child in a good place. He had many friends and girlfriends. He was a witty. He was a strong-willed guy. He called a spade a spade and did not compromise.
Since childhood, he played football. After the game, the whole team often came to our house, we fed everyone, often the guys stayed overnight. And the nephews too.
It was always fun at home. His friends always said that he was the ringleader. Where he was, there was always a holiday and always bami, which he loved very much.
Bryce was very fond of music. When new hits appeared, they appeared at him first. He loved hip-hop, reggae and soul. Recorded CDs with music for the whole family. He had a dream to open his own radio station. There was always music in the house.
Things didn't always go smoothly in high school. He didn't take his studies very seriously. He believed that life teaches much better than school.
He had many girlfriends. Once one of them somehow missed the train and stayed at our house.
I didn't think that Bryce would get more serious until he was 30. But then Daisy appeared. A modest beautiful girl from our area. She began to come more and more often. She stayed with us to have supper. And of course, sometimes she stayed overnight.
Soon it sometimes turned into everyday. Daisy's mother Celi lived nearby with her grandmother and aunt Paula. They had a small family. She had no brothers, sisters, nephews or nieces. Daisy was a kind, sweet girl.
We had a big and strong family and Daisy really liked it. She very quickly began to feel at home with us. We even talked with Rob to each other - look, we have another daughter. She became a member of our family and everyone loved her.
Sometimes it seemed like they were a young couple. Bryce did everything for her. We've seen how it changes. Our dunce began to turn into a caring young man in love. Sometimes he lost his temper. Then Daisy asked him to calm down. And he listened to her!
Of course, they sometimes quarreled. Then I saw Daisy go away angry. And then a minute later I look - Bryce is following her. He was always the first to go to make up.
Rob and I decided to go on vacation to Indonesia. Planned the trip for the end of May 2014. Bryce and Daisy wanted to come with us. Just move away from reality for a while, unwind somewhere else. The husband's brother invited them to stay with him.
They wanted to go with us at the end of May. But it seemed to me that it was better that Daisy first tried to finish the school year, and that she went to rest immediately the next day after its completion. And that was July 17, 2014.
But first we went on vacation. We returned on July 6th. Daisy came home from school happy two days before leaving. She was accepted into the class assistant courses. Finally something good!
The last day before the trip, Daisy went for a walk with her girlfriends in the city. Bryce went to his friend. When he said goodbye to him, he said: "If the plane crashes, you will definitely have to come and look for me!"
Grandmother Daisy also came to say goodbye to them. But they were gone. I dialed Bryce and his grandmother told him on the phone: “Be sure to come to me to say goodbye! Who knows, you may never be back”.
I heard Bryce laughing on the phone. “I made a roti for them, they adore it.” As it turned out, this was their last meal.
They came home at 19.00. We had a quick meal and ran to Daisy’s grandmother and Bryce’s grandfather. At 22.00 they finally returned home and began to pack up.
By that time, I had already prepared some things for them. I knew that these two in a hurry are bound to forget something.
I lay in bed and watched TV. The next morning I had to get up early for work. I heard them laughing and talking. I heard music. The last song I heard was “Count your blessings” by Demin Marley. We then played this song at the cremation.
And then that terrible day came. The day that plunged us into a nightmare. I had to work, I got up early in the morning as usual, went to the shower. I already heard Daisy fingering something in their room.
When I got dressed, I went into their room. Daisy stood in her pajamas and packed her things. Bryce was still dozing. I hugged Daisy and said: "Relax there well, leave all your worries here and take care of each other." "Of course!" - she said.
I hugged sleepy Bryza and said the same thing to him. “Yes, yes, everything will be fine,” he muttered.
Rob took them to the airport. Before landing, we still exchanged several messages with each other by phone. Daisy was afraid to fly.
- Are you nervous?
- By the way, all airports have free wi-fi
- Have a good trip
- Yes, it will be very helpful.
- Thank you so much for everything!
- Have fun
- Yes, everything will be fine.
- Are you going?
- Yes, we will when we eat.
Bye mom, thanks for everything. We are already getting on the plane.
- Enjoy and have a good flight!
In the afternoon, I had a barbecue at work. My phone was in silent mode. I chatted with colleagues. When I went to get food, I felt the eyes of one of my colleagues, who was talking on the phone.
He said: "Your daughter is calling me!"
My heart stopped. I remember cherry tomatoes starting to fall off my plate. Either Rob has a heart attack, or the kids have crashed.
I went to a quiet place and heard Rob screaming on the phone. "Bryce and Daisy crashed!"
Shock. I understood that there was no hope. I switched to survival mode. You need to be calm, not nervous. You need to act, you need to decide a lot.
My colleagues took me home. I could not comprehend what had happened. It's not true, is it? It only happens to others!
I was able to pick up the phone only after an hour and a half - I was the last one who was officially informed of this.
And then people began to come to our house without ceasing. It was chaos.
I called the World Ticket company where they bought the ticket. They gave me the Malaysian Airlines phone number. On this phone, I heard an answering machine, which said that I can call during business hours.
What to do? Who should I call? Nobody knew. On teletext, I saw the number of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where we can call.
I called. The line was congested.
The only thing we knew was that their plane crashed in eastern Ukraine.
It was a short night with almost no sleep. My husband Rob and I sat down on the sofa together.
Finally I was able to cry.
We hugged each other and started crying together. We have lost our child.
We wanted to go to the crash site. They said that a Malaysian Airlines flight would fly there, but the situation in eastern Ukraine turned out to be too dangerous.
You still need to go to the airport, you need to do something!
With several family members, we arrived at the airport hotel, where a crisis center was organized for the families of the victims.
At the entrance there was a sign that read “relatives of those killed on flight MH17”. It's me. I am a relative of the deceased. I felt bad.
We were taken to a room, where we provided the information they needed. Through tears, we described how our children looked.
And then a KLM employee asked, "What would you like to know?" I say, "Are they on the passenger list?"
"What are their names?"
Daisy Joe Uhlers
"Bryce Jesse Fredrichs"
The earth again disappeared from under my feet. Of course I knew, but now it was official.
A KLM employee said their seats were 17 D and E
It was near where the rocket exploded.
It was like I was drowning in the ocean with storm waves. It was necessary to try hard to stay afloat. My body was like a piece of concrete.
I couldn't control my thoughts. I didn’t understand anything, I couldn’t do anything, I didn’t want to do anything. It took effort even just to breathe.
I could not understand how it is possible that life goes on, that the sun is shining.
All I wanted was to bring back my old life, which was Bryce and Daisy. How long have I struggled with this feeling - to accept that the old life will never be. I could not and did not want to understand and accept this.
I was struggling with something invisible, something irreversible. When I closed my eyes, I saw the children in front of me on the plane, the plane crashing.
Did they understand what was happening? Did they scream? Did they hurt? Were they still alive when they burned? All these thoughts never left my head.
It was impossible to come to look for the bodies at the crash site and pick them up. Then there was a train, into which they put rotting bodies and body parts. Somewhere there were our children.
We met my husband's brother at the airport who came back from Bali. When we arrived at the airport, we saw a sea of flowers brought by people.
CNN and ITV reporters saw us and asked if we would like to be interviewed. At first I was very angry, but then I thought - let the whole world see those affected, let them see our grief.
I turned to Putin: "Please bring my children home!" These shots immediately spread all over the world.
https: //www.smh.com.au /.../ mh17-disaster-mr-putin-send-my ...
After that, the media did not lag behind us.
I don’t know where people got our contacts, but they started calling us from everywhere. Over the years we have given countless interviews, both for Dutch TV channels and TV channels in other countries.
Whole bodies were identified first. There were fewer and fewer of them. We hoped less and less that we would be able to bury them whole. If only they could be identified at all! Our life has become an expectation.
On September 10, on our wedding day, when I went to work for coffee, the phone rang. The family relations officer called. We were able to identify Bryce. The earth again disappeared from under my feet.
I started calling everyone. I don't remember how I got home. But my husband and I were together when an officer came to us and told us the details.
Were able to identify Bryce's left foot. It burned out so much that it was impossible to understand that it was a foot. We rejoiced at the burnt foot.
Now Daisy had to be identified. At least the tip of your finger. We may not get anything else from Bryce, but at least something from Daisy.
The wait was unbearable, we were very afraid that nothing was left of her. And finally, on October 22nd - a life-saving call. Officers came to us again. They told us that part of her pelvis was identified.
Paula said, crying: “Ah, my dear Daisy! The most feminine part of your body, from where a new generation was supposed to appear, our hope, our future ”- I will never forget her words.
Again shock, again unbearable pain. But we were already glad that Daisy existed again!
Then we were told the day when we could come and look for things. Digging through these things was just awful. Every time I found something, my heart stopped beating.
I found a few things: a boarding pass, a printed ticket, Daisy's backpack, a business card for a store in Bali, Daisy's notebook, Bryce's T-shirt, a mashed potato my husband's brother asked to bring, and a folder in which we put Indian rupees for them.
The bracelet that I presented to Daisy caused the most emotion. He was on her when she left. He was on her when she burned in the fire. The bracelet has turned black and broken. It was very painful.
Unfortunately, they did not find passports and telephones. We heard from other relatives that they had to be cremated several times because they were constantly informed that new body remains had been identified. We didn't want that. We decided to wait until we got everything we have.
On July 1, 2015, the last message came - again, several pieces of bones from both children were found. It's time to organize the cremation.
We took photographs of the body parts of the children that were identified. I looked at them like a doctor, distantly. I turned off my emotions. Something I even recognized - part of the ankle, part of the skull. It was creepy.
We decided everything together with Paula. All decisions were made only when they agreed with each other. This has always been the case.
In the end, all the remains of the children were handed over to us in the hospital. They were placed in a heart-shaped wooden coffin. We took him two days before the cremation. We removed the body parts from the coffin, which were packed in plastic. I didn't understand what these parts were. They were very badly burned, there were many exposed bones. But I recognized this - a piece of Daisy's blouse with burnt edges.
This find was more painful than all the others.
And now, 14 months later, we are standing next to our children. Now no one dares to touch them, they are now only ours. We took them home.
I put them in the coffin myself. I didn't want anyone else to touch them. This was to happen at our home, with family and friends. Then we put them in the living room, there were flowers and candles everywhere.
They were home! It felt so good. On the day of cremation, I took several bones from the coffin - the last touch. I will never forget it. These were our children until the very last moment. We were not afraid that the bones were burnt, we were not afraid of the burnt muscle tissue.
In the last hour before cremation, we put a heart-shaped wooden coffin with the remains of the children on their bed. How I wanted to leave them there! But I had to say goodbye.
There were over 1000 people at the cremation. People were even standing in the street. We ourselves accompanied them to the oven, put the flowers and they left. Into the fire again.
I was all like a bare nerve. I couldn't relax for a second. Constantly depressed, could not communicate with anyone, and so for 2.5 years.
The forces were leaving. It was difficult to fall asleep. And when I finally fell asleep, I almost immediately woke up in a panic from nightmares.
The pills dulled the acuteness of emotions a little. The panic attacks have become less severe. But until now, terrible fatigue, constant tension, sleep problems, problems with concentration.
I see children everywhere. I am still waiting for them to return home.
Every time I see a tall girl with black long hair in the city, I look - could it be Daisy?
Every time I see a tall, slender young man with a baseball cap, I look - could it be Bryce?
I keep looking for them. Is always. Everywhere.
I was very happy when it became known that the process is starting in March 2020. I was glad that the charge was precisely murder.
I am grateful that the names of the victims were announced during the first meeting! I consider the evidence of the prosecutor's office convincing.
If I find out who pressed the button, who gave the order to launch the rocket, I will find peace.
Punishing the guilty is no longer so important to me.
If the criminals live long enough, I hope their conscience will catch up.
Maybe because of what they have done, they will not be able to sleep peacefully.
Maybe Putin or the Kremlin will say someday: "Sorry, we are to blame."
Maybe one day. Most likely never.
We received a life sentence. I wrote this appeal constantly thinking about Paula. If she were still alive, she would have stood next to me and read her message about her niece. I did it on her behalf.