Dutch, Australians launch case against Moscow over Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 downing
The case announced on Monday in The Hague and Canberra is the latest bid to hold Russia legally responsible for the missile strike that brought down the passenger jet over eastern Ukraine in 2014.
AMSTERDAM: The Dutch and Australian governments have launched a legal case against Russia at the International Civil Aviation Organisation seeking to hold Moscow accountable for its alleged role in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.
The case announced on Monday in The Hague and Canberra is the latest bid to hold Russia legally responsible for the missile strike that brought down the passenger jet over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 people on board.
An international investigation concluded that the Amsterdam-to-Kuala Lumpur flight was shot down from territory held by separatist rebels using a Buk missile system that was driven into Ukraine from a Russian military base and then returned to the base. Moscow denies involvement.
The Dutch government said the timing of the case isn’t connected to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but alluded to the devastating conflict in its announcement.
Foreign Affairs Minister Wopke Hoekstra stressed that the Dutch government would continue to do all it can to hold Russia responsible.
“The deaths of 298 civilians, including 196 Dutch citizens, cannot remain without consequences,” he said. “The current events in Ukraine underscore the crucial importance of that.”
The Australian government said in a statement that “Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine and the escalation of its aggression underscores the need to continue our enduring efforts to hold Russia to account for its blatant violation of international law and the U.N. Charter, including threats to Ukraine’s sovereignty and airspace.”
Among the victims were 38 residents of Australia.
The latest legal action comes as the Dutch murder trial in absentia of three Russians and a Ukrainian for their alleged roles in the downing of MH17 continues. Verdicts are expected late this year. Prosecutors have sought life sentences for the suspects. Three of the suspects have boycotted the trial, one is represented by a Dutch legal team, which insists he is innocent.
The new ICAO case follows Russia’s decision to walk away in October 2020 from negotiations with the Netherlands and Australia over state responsibility for the flight’s downing.
Dutch Infrastructure Minister Mark Harbers said the latest legal action is aimed at securing international recognition “that Russia is responsible for the MH17 disaster. Next of kin have a right to that.”