The Dutch Government to Sue Russia Over the Downed Malaysia Airlines Plane in Ukraine

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(— July 11, 2020) — AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – The Dutch government will attempt to sue Russia in the European Court of Human Rights because of its alleged role in the crash of a plane on the Malaysia Airlines flight MH-17 over eastern Ukraine six years ago, said the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, NY Times reports.

The move is intended to support individual lawsuits filed before the European Court by relatives of some of the 298 people killed when a plane on a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down by a Buk rocket from territory controlled by pro-Russian Ukrainian rebels on July 17, 2014.

“Achieving justice for 298 victims of the downing of Flight MH-17 is and will remain the government’s highest priority,” said Dutch Foreign Minister Steph Block. “By taking this step today — bringing a case before the European Court of Human Rights and thus supporting the applications of the next of kin as much as we can — we are moving closer to this goal.”

By initiating the lawsuit, the Dutch authorities can share all available information on the plane crash with the European Court of Human Rights, whose headquarters are in Strasbourg. This would allow individual lawsuits of relatives of the deceased to be taken into consideration, the ministry said in a statement.

Moscow has repeatedly denied any connection with the crash.

An international team of prosecutors investigating the case accused three Russians and one Ukrainian citizen of involvement in the plane crash and the killing of everyone on board. They will be tried in absence by a Dutch court because none have yet been extradited to the Netherlands for trial.

Prosecutors say they have evidence that the rocket that hit the MH-17 airplane was brought to Ukraine by truck from a Russian military base, and that the mobile launch system was later returned back to Russia.

The Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, described the indictment as “another blow” to the relationship between Russia and the Netherlands.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not yet reacted to this lawsuit. Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the foreign affairs committee in the upper house of the Russian parliament, called the Dutch move “a strange initiative from every aspect”, the Russian agency Interfax reported.

“The investigation has not been completed yet, there have been no verdicts at the national level and finally what the European Court of Human Rights has to do with that,” Kosacev said.