World

Netherlands to sue Russia over downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17

The Dutch government on Friday said it would file a suit against Russia at the European Court of Human Rights over the downing of Malaysia Airlines passenger flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine six years ago.

Most victims on plane shot down in Ukraine airspace in 2014 were Dutch

Netherlands Foreign Minister Stef Blok, shown on Oct. 10, 2019, during a news conference in Ukraine about the doomed plane, said the lawsuit is the latest step to get accountability for the victims. (Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters)

The Dutch government on Friday said it would file a suit against Russia at the European Court of Human Rights over the downing of Malaysia Airlines passenger flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine six years ago.

The Netherlands, home to roughly two-thirds of the 298 victims, holds Russia responsible for the crash on July 17, 2014. The Kremlin has consistently denied involvement in the matter.

"The submission is a new step in our efforts to establish truth, justice and accountability," Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said in a letter to parliament.

"Achieving justice for 298 victims of the downing of Flight MH17 is and will remain the government's highest priority," he said. "By taking this step today … we are moving closer to this goal."

Blok said his government would give the court all its information on MH17, thereby supporting the individual applications already submitted by the victims' next of kin.

Suspects being tried in absentia

MH17 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, when it was shot down by a missile fired from territory held by pro-Moscow rebels during fighting in eastern Ukraine, killing everyone on board.

After years of collecting evidence, a Dutch-led international Joint Investigation Team (JIT) last year said the missile launcher used to hit the jet came from a Russian army base just across the border.

The JIT subsequently issued arrest warrants for four suspects, who were put on trial in the Netherlands in absentia earlier this year.

The four suspects, three Russian men and one Ukrainian, are said to have arranged the missile system. They remain at large and are believed to be in Russia.

Despite the new court case, the Dutch government said it wanted to continue the talks with Russia on MH17 that it started together with Australia over a year ago.

LISTEN l On the beginning of the criminal trial in March:

A trial has begun in Amsterdam for the murder of the 298 people killed in 2014 in the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash over Ukraine. But the four men charged are still at large, and although Russia has been implicated in the downing of the plane, the Putin government has denied any responsibility. CBC's Chris Brown joins Jayme Poisson to talk about the victims' families' search for justice – and why the stakes are so high for Russia. 20:27

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