Justice for family of Sydney MH17 victim

The family of a Sydney nun who died when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was downed by a Russian military BUK missile eight years ago says a Dutch court has delivered justice.

Three men - two Russians and a Ukrainian separatist - were found guilty of murder in the Netherlands this week and sentenced to life in prison for their role in shooting down the plane.

A fourth man was acquitted.

But while the perpetrators remain at large in Russia, and the Kremlin denies any involvement, the verdict has provided some comfort to those left behind.

Hundreds of loved ones of the 298 passengers and crew, including family and friends of 38 Australians, travelled to the court to hear the verdict.

Dermot Tiernan, whose aunt Philomene was on board, listened to the near two-hour verdict through interpreter headphones alongside his brother Ray and daughter Harriet.

Mary Philomene Tiernan - known to her family as Aunty Phil - was a much-loved teacher, sister, friend and highly respected member of the Sydney community.

Originally from Brisbane, the Catholic nun taught at the Kincoppal-Rose Bay School of the Sacred Heart in Sydney's east for three decades.

She boarded MH17 following a trip around Europe attending several retreats and was heading home to Australia.

Mr Tiernan told AAP despite details of the tragedy being established by earlier investigations, having them confirmed as fact in a courtroom was significant.

"The cover up started straight away, that was a big thing the judge relied on," he said.

"The three had to have known, they were all involved and as soon as they realised what they'd done they were trying to get rid of the evidence.

"We've heard about it, but it was never established as fact until now."

Mr Tiernan said there was a sense of relief and catharsis in the public gallery where he sat as the verdict was handed down.

The attention and focus put into the investigation and court proceedings was powerful.

"It definitely means something. It shows justice can be served and there was so much effort when it came to the forensics and the investigation," Mr Tiernan said.

"It's not about vengeance, it's about justice and I think that's been achieved."

Families travelling for the verdict also had a chance to visit a "living memorial" at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam where MH17 departed from on July 17, 2014.

The memorial has 298 trees representing every person on board. A plaque at each tree details their ages and nationalities.

At the centre, a sculpture of an eyeball inscribed with their names looks up to the sky.