THE HAGUE — The families and friends of Dutch citizens killed in the downing of an airliner in Ukraine poured out their grief and anger Monday at a meeting with their monarch and political leaders.
‘‘This terrible disaster has left a deep wound in our society,’’ King Willem-Alexander said after joining family members in a private meeting. ‘‘The scar will be visible and tangible for years to come.’’
The Dutch have condemned the way the bodies of the victims have been handled in Ukraine and the fact they have not yet been returned home, four days after the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 killed 298 passengers and crew, including 193 Dutch citizens.
In an unusual move that underscored the severity of the national trauma, the king gave a brief televised address to the country after meeting hundreds of grieving relatives and friends of the dead near the central city of Utrecht.
‘‘Many people said to us, ‘We at least want to take dignified leave of our loved ones,’ ’’ he said. ‘‘We understand their frustration and their pain. And we share their heartfelt wish for clarity on the cause of this disaster.’’
Speaking after that meeting, Prime Minister Mark Rutte also acknowledged the nation’s discontent.
‘‘All of the Netherlands feels their anger,’’ Rutte said. ‘‘All of the Netherlands feels their deep grief. All of the Netherlands is standing with the next of kin.’’
Victor Jammers, policy director of the organization Victim Support Netherlands, was also in the meeting. He said relatives were angry at being kept in the dark.
‘‘The people I spoke to direct their anger of course to the Ukraine and to Russia, to give you an example, but there is also anger toward the Dutch government, because relatives wanted more information than they got in the past days,’’ he said.
One of the questions many are asking is: Will the perpetrators face justice?
Netherlands prosecutors said they have begun a criminal investigation, though it remains unclear where any suspects might face a court, if they can be tracked down.