MH17 disaster: Dutch take Russia to European rights court

  • Published
An investigator inspects the wreckage of flight MH17. File photoImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
All 298 people on board the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 died when the plane was brought down in 2014

The Dutch government says it is taking Russia to the European Court of Human Rights for its "role in the downing" of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in 2014.

Foreign Minister Stef Blok says the "highest priority" is justice for the 298 victims on board the plane shot down over eastern Ukraine.

It happened after Russian-backed rebels seized the area.

Dutch-led investigators say they have proof the Buk missile system that shot down the plane was brought from Russia.

Russia has repeatedly denied involvement in the attack.

Media caption,

Investigators said in 2018 they had evidence of the route taken by a Russian missile convoy

Citizens of 10 different countries died on board the Boeing 777 airliner that was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. More than two-thirds of the victims were Dutch nationals.

In March, a trial opened in the Netherlands of three Russian and one Ukrainian citizens - still at large - for the murder of 298 people on board the plane. They are all linked to the pro-Moscow separatists.

The trial, in a court near Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, is expected to last for months.

What did the Dutch government say?

In a statement, the Dutch foreign ministry said the government "decided to bring Russia before the European Court of Human Rights for its role in the downing of Flight MH17".

It said that "by taking this course of action the government is offering maximum support" to individual cases already brought against Russia by victims' families.

Media caption,

MH17 disaster: My nephew's body came back in 80 pieces

"Achieving justice for 298 victims of the downing of Flight MH17 is and will remain the government's highest priority," said Mr Blok.

"By taking this step today... we are moving closer to this goal," he added.

At the same time, the Dutch foreign ministry stressed on the "importance to continuing the meetings with Russia on the matter of state responsibility".

How has Russia reacted?

Russia has so far made no official comments on the latest Dutch move.

Although Moscow argues it has long offered to co-operate with the Dutch-led investigators, it has also presented several versions of what brought down MH17.

Dutch officials asked Russia to submit any information they had, but said at one point that the information it had provided was "factually inaccurate on several points".

Media caption,

The suspects were named at a media conference

Late last year, Russia was asked by Dutch prosecutors to arrest a Ukrainian suspect alleged to have run rebel air defences close to the missile firing site. Instead, according to prosecutors, Russia deliberately allowed him to travel to eastern Ukraine.

The Dutch and Australian governments made clear in 2018 they held Russia responsible for the deployment of the Buk missile launcher that brought down the plane.

Who died on MH17?

Image source, Various
Image caption,
Some of the victims. A total of 298 people from 10 countries died on flight MH17
  • 193 Dutch
  • 43 Malaysians (including 15 crew)
  • 27 Australians
  • 12 Indonesians
  • 10 Britons
  • 4 German nationals, 4 Belgians
  • 3 Filipinos, 1 Canadian and 1 New Zealander

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