Bereaved families will soon learn the names of those believed responsible for the downing of MH17 and the deaths of all 298 people aboard, including 38 Australians.
They have waited almost exactly five agonising years to find out who provided – and who fired – the Russian-made anti-aircraft missile that hit the passenger plane as it flew over an area of eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russian separatists on June 17, 2014.
The international Joint Investigation Team, which includes Australia, is on Wednesday expected to finally name individual suspects and bring criminal charges against them in the Netherlands.
That information should provide a measure of relief for the bereaved, many of whom have grown tired of endless Russian obstruction and denials of involvement.
Another protest was held outside the Russian Embassy in The Hague earlier this month – 298 white chairs arranged in aircraft rows and signs calling for “Justice for MH17” and “Humanity over politics”.
Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister for European Integration Olena Zerkal understands a criminal trial will begin shortly.
“I very much respect the Dutch for not making premature conclusions before the investigation is over,” Ms Zerkal told Ukraine’s national news agency Ukrinform on Friday.
“Only after they make sure that everything is fully prepared, and the position is strong, only then they come out and say something that they already know for sure.”
The Russians were “probably” aware of the findings and had not responded to a request for legal assistance, she added.
Australian and Dutch officials held talks with Russian officials behind closed doors earlier this year, but it’s still unknown whether suspects will be handed over to face court or tried in absentia.
West Australian Anthony Maslin is set to find out the identities of those suspected of murdering his three children Mo, 12, Evie, 10, Otis, eight, and father-in-law Nick Norris.
Speaking to the ABC’s Australian Story program last week, he feels more compassion than rage against the culprits.
“Anger doesn’t help,” Mr Maslin said.
“I don’t feel anger towards the people who fired that rocket … I feel something much worse towards them which is pity.
“… they will have to go through the rest of their lives knowing they killed 298 people, including the most phenomenal man and three of the most beautiful children to ever walk the earth.”
The Joint Investigation Team was formed in 2014 by Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine to investigate collaboratively.
There were 38 Australians, one New Zealander, 193 Dutch, 43 Malaysians and 12 Indonesians were aboard, as well as 10 British passengers.
The other passengers were from Germany, Belgium, the Philippines and Canada.