Agenda Daily

Loved ones left behind after MH17 call for justice

Angela Nagel sat bravely at the bench in the Victorian Coroner's Court, telling her singular tale of love and loss.

Her husband, Marco Grippeling, was one of the 298 people who died aboard Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 when it was shot from the sky over the Ukraine in 2014.

This was the inquest on behalf of 17 Victorians who died with him.

The hearing was brief. Summaries from the Australian Federal Police and a forensics expert, then submissions from relatives of the deceased, including Ms Nagel.

The pair met while travelling in 2002. Marco was her "beautiful Dutch man", she said.

After helping build the particle accelerator at CERN, he came to Melbourne in 2005, and worked in cyber security.
MH17 victims Albert and Maree Rizk, of Sunbury.

"He was that guy that you saw on the train every day, walking up Queen Street, stopping for a coffee," she said. "The quintessential quiet achiever."

Two years before his death, they were married. She said it was the best day of her life.

Six months before his death, they bought a ramshackle house in the country on 20 acres of bushland. It was their first home, their paradise. Now lost.
MH17 victim Marco Grippeling.

"Everything is gone. Everything is broken. My dreams are destroyed. My life as I knew it has shattered," Ms Nagle told the court.

"I will never recover from losing him in this way."

She is left now with a persistent mix of grief and guilt, she said, for still being alive. She has been to "the darkest place", one in which she thought about leaving the world to be with him again.

Instead she lives alone in their partially renovated house, with a mortgage she cannot afford, struggling to sleep.

Detective Superintendent Andrew Donoghoe, senior Australian Federal Police investigator, gave an account of what happened to MH17 to the court – a blow by blow of what we already know.

The Boeing 777, on a regular run from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was destroyed by the detonation of a 70-kilogram Russian-made 9N314M warhead, which exploded just outside the nose.

There was no evidence of "action" from passengers or crew. No messages written. No photographs taken.

The plane was 10 kilometres high when it was hit, three hours from Amsterdam. The cockpit broke away. The wingtips came off. The rest fell for more than a minute and crashed into fields upside down.

They all fell. The retired Chinatown restaurateur. The former paratrooper studying business. The high school teacher and award winning author. The piano tutor and abalone diver.

People from Eynesbury and Glen Iris, Mallacoota and Windsor.

The criminal investigation will continue until at least mid-2016, but for the most part, victim identification is mercifully complete.

Associate Professor David Ranson, a forensic pathologist, explained the detailed protocol for identifying body parts after a "mass death" to the court.

Collection of material, followed by identification through any means possible: fingerprints, dental and medical records, DNA sampling, scars or tattoos was thorough and swift.

Vanessa and James Rizk, the son and daughter of the late Albert and Maree Risk from Sunbury, were already familiar with the process.

Vanessa paid tribute to her dad, a loyal, intelligent man, she said, who made an exceptional Sunday roast, and could make you laugh even when you were at your most upset.

James turned the lens on his mother, the generous and honest backbone of the family, who lived for breakfast in bed on birthdays.

The siblings had found some consolation from the fact that their parents were together at the end, Vanessa said, and that they were returning from the holiday of a lifetime.

However, she said: "Until someone is convicted of committing this terrible crime, we will never have closure. Living without your parents is a terrible thing."-16/12/2015

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