Family of MH17 victim feel ‘satisfaction, but no more’ after guilty verdict

The father of a British student who died when flight MH17 was shot down said he felt “satisfaction, but no more” after three pro-Russian troops were found guilty of his son’s murder.

Simon Mayne, father of Richard Mayne, who was 20 when he died after the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 was shot down in 2014, said the trial in the Netherlands went to “the heart of what it means for nation states to be able to deal with each other”.

Richard had been flying out to study maths and finance at the University of Western Australia after finishing two years of study at the University of Leeds.

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He was driven to Birmingham Airport by his family on the morning of July 17 to make a connecting flight to Amsterdam, where he got on MH17 to Kuala Lumpur – from which he planned to catch his final connection to Perth.

A relative of a victim speaks to the media outside the Schiphol Judicial Complex in Netherlands. Picture: Pierre Crom/Getty Images
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Mr Mayne, who lives in Leicestershire, said: “You just want your son back. You want him back for Christmas. You want him to be able to open his present on his birthday. You want to be able to phone him up when Leicester City beat Nottingham 4-0 and have a chat with him.”

He said Richard had flown out to Australia to “have the time of his life” and “teach the Aussies how to play rugby”.

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Mr Mayne said the court process had been “terribly important”, adding it went “to the very essence of what it means to be part of a free democratic state like the UK or the Netherlands”.

He said his response to the verdict was “not elation”, but “a small sense of satisfaction that I was witnessing the law in action – I was witnessing proper, civilised international states from the free world behaving as they should – so satisfaction, but no more”.

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He said the support he received from the British Government was “exemplary” and “every aspect of what happened in the aftermath was professionally done both by the Dutch and the UK”.

Russian nationals Igor Girkin and Sergey Dubinskiy, and Ukrainian separatist Leonid Kharchenko, were found guilty at a court near Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport on Thursday of the murder of the plane’s 298 passengers and crew.

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Foreign secretary James Cleverly said the guilty verdicts were “an important step in securing justice for the families of the victims”.

He said: “[A total of] 298 lives, including those of ten British nationals, were tragically lost on 17 July 2014. Thousands more have been devastated in the years since, as family and friends continue to grieve for their loved ones.

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“The downing of MH17 was a shocking violation of international norms, which keep our societies safe. It serves as a stark reminder of the human cost of Russia’s actions in Ukraine over many years.”

Russian Oleg Pulatov, the only suspect represented by defence lawyers at the trial, was acquitted for lack of evidence.

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Prosecutors said on Thursday the convicted men had two weeks to file an appeal.

The court awarded damages to the families of more than €16 million (£14m), but it is unclear just who would pay that sum.

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