Dutch and Australians launch lawsuit against Moscow for MH17 | Radio WGN 720

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FILE – File photo from Tuesday, October 13, 2015 shows the reconstructed wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, displayed during a press conference in Gilze-Rijen, central Netherlands. The Dutch and Australian governments on Monday (March 14, 2022) launched legal action against Russia with the International Civil Aviation Organization seeking to hold Moscow accountable for its alleged role in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

AMSTERDAM (AP) — The Dutch and Australian governments have filed a lawsuit against Russia with 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 Monday in The Hague and Canberra is the latest attempt to hold Russia legally responsible for the missile attack that shot down the airliner over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, killing the 298 people on board.

An international investigation has concluded that the Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur flight was shot down from territory held by separatist rebels using a Buk missile system that was launched into Ukraine from a Russian military base and then returned to the based. Moscow denies any involvement.

The Dutch government said the timing of the case was unrelated to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but alluded to the devastating conflict in its announcement.

Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra stressed that the Dutch government would continue to do everything possible to hold Russia accountable.

“The death of 298 civilians, including 196 Dutch citizens, cannot remain without consequences,” he said. “Current events in Ukraine underscore the critical importance of this.”

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

Among the victims were 38 Australian residents.

The latest legal action comes as the Dutch trial for the murder in absentia of three Russians and a Ukrainian for their alleged roles in the downing of MH17 continues. Verdicts are expected later this year. Prosecutors have requested life sentences for the suspects. Three of the suspects boycotted the trial, one is represented by a Dutch legal team, which insists on his innocence.

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

Dutch Infrastructure Minister Mark Harbers said the latest legal action seeks international recognition “that Russia is responsible for the MH17 disaster. Close relatives are eligible.

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