The Dutch and Australians sue Moscow over MH17

The Dutch and Australian governments have sued Russia at the International Civil Aviation Organization 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 attempt to hold Russia legally responsible for the missile strike that brought down a passenger plane over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 people on board.

An international investigation has concluded that the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down from rebel-held territory using a Buk missile system that was pushed 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 was not linked to Russia’s invasion of UkraineBut it alludes to the devastating conflict in its announcement.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Woebke Hoekstra stressed that the Dutch government will continue to do everything in its power to hold Russia responsible.

“The deaths of 298 civilians, including 196 Dutch, cannot continue without consequences,” he said. “The current events in Ukraine underline the critical importance of this.”

“Russia’s unprovoked and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and its escalation of aggression underscore the need to continue our ongoing efforts to hold Russia accountable for its flagrant violation of international law and the Charter of the United Nations, including threats against Ukraine’s sovereignty and airspace,” the Australian government said in a statement.

Among the victims were 38 Australians.

The latest legal action comes as the trial in absentia continues for the murders of three Russians and a Ukrainian for their alleged roles in the downing of MH17. Verdicts are expected later this year. Prosecutors demanded life sentences for the suspects. Three suspects boycotted the trial, one of whom is represented by a Dutch legal team insisting he is innocent.

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The new ICAO case comes on the heels of Russia’s decision in October 2020 to withdraw from negotiations with the Netherlands and Australia over state responsibility for the downing of the plane.

Dutch Infrastructure Minister Mark Harpers said the latest legal action is aimed at ensuring international recognition “that Russia is responsible for the MH17 disaster. The closest relatives have a right to it.”

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