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'We Want The Truth': Parents Of MH17 Victim Seek Justice, 'Chain Of Command'

Meryn O’Brien with a photograph of her son, John, who died when flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine in 2014.
Meryn O’Brien with a photograph of her son, John, who died when flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine in 2014.

The Australian parents of a man killed when Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down in 2014 say they want the truth to come out but stress that they blame the Russian leadership and not the people for the tragedy.

"I think we may never hear the Russian government say, 'Yes, we were responsible,'" Jon O’Brien, the father of 25-year-old Jack, who was killed when the passenger jet was shot down over Ukraine, said in an interview on May 25 with Current Time TV, a Russian-language network run by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA.

"We want the truth to come out, but we direct that to the Kremlin and the Russian leaders and not against the Russian people," said the victim's mother, Meryn O’Brien.

The comments come a day after a Dutch-led international criminal investigation concluded that the Buk missile that shot down the flight over the conflict zone in Ukraine's Donetsk region on July 17, 2014, came from Russia's 53rd Antiaircraft Missile Brigade.

MH17 was flying between the Netherlands and Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down, killing all 298 people on board.

The Joint Investigative Team (JIT), comprising authorities from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands, and Ukraine, made the announcement at a press conference in Utrecht.

Investigators Say Missile From Russian Unit Downed MH17
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Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking at a business forum in St. Petersburg, denied Moscow was responsible for the downing, saying the Ukrainian military could have been culpable.

Putin added that Moscow would not trust the investigation's findings because Russia has been excluded from the investigative team.

"We aren't taking part in it, and our arguments haven't been accepted by the investigative commission," he said.

'More Than Enough Evidence'

But Jon O’Brien insisted that "there is already more than enough evidence for anyone who is looking at it dispassionately to say, 'No, the weight of evidence is there.'"

"But if people have decided not to believe it, then nothing will convince them," he added.

Meryn O’Brien added that "our interest is not just in the people who fired the missile, but the chain of command…Why did that situation come about in the first place?”

"But it's important for us that the rest of the world knows the truth…That’s really important."

"We wonder what we will see in our lifetime in terms of justice," she added.

She said the next step would be when actual people are charged for the downing of the plane and a prosecution is brought to a court in the Netherlands, "whether the people are there or not."

On the same day as the JIT conclusion was announced, Russia’s Novaya Gazeta published an "Open Letter To The Russian People From The Families Of The Victims," written by the O'Briens and addressing the loss of all those aboard the flight..

The couple said the publication of the letter had not been timed to coincide with the JIT report but to the upcoming opening of the World Cup soccer tournament.

They said the pain of the loss of their son was intensified by the father and son's love of soccer and the fact that the tournament will be held in Russia starting on June 14.

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