His brother Alex, his sister-in-law and his cousin died in the downing of flight MH17. As the chairman of the foundation ‘Stichting vliegramp MH17’ Piet Ploeg is now the spokesperson of the families that were left behind. ‘An independent court has to bring those responsible to justice.’
The remains of his sister-in-law and his cousin were found after the crash. From Alex, however, no body remains were retrieved from the crash area in eastern Ukraine. His brother had two daughters, but they didn’t join the trip to the tropics on 17 July 2014. Ploeg looks after them now.
Before the downing of flight MH17 Ploeg was a public administrator near the Dutch city of Utrecht. After the incident, Ploeg quit his job. The plane crash had a big impact on him, on his family and particularly on his parents who passed away in 2019. ‘I am chairman of the foundation now’, he explains. ‘It’s like a job to me.’
Carpenters and judges
Right after the downing, Ploeg wanted to support his relatives. Later on, he decided he wanted to help other grieving families too. ‘I got to know them, closely. The group includes many different people, carpenters and judges alike.’
All the families fully support the prosecution of the four suspects identified by the Netherlands Public Prosecution Service (OM). ’I deeply respect these people, who have been waiting for answers so patiently and dutifully for so long.’
On 9 March 2020, the public hearings will start. The proceedings of the District Court of The Hague will take place at the Schiphol Judicial Complex, near the national airport. Relatives will follow the trial at a location that is arranged for them in Nieuwegein, near the city of Utrecht.
Although the suspects will not be present, as they haven’t been arrested yet, the trial is of great significance to the families. Ploeg: ‘We’ve been waiting for this moment for years. Not just because the families can now make a public statement during the trial. I still have to think about what I am going to say. At this the moment, I really don’t know. More importantly, we need this because the world must know who’s responsible.’