Australia, Netherlands start legal action against Russia for downing of MH17

Details that matter: Trial judges and lawyers viewing the reconstructed wreckage of MH17, at the Gilze-Rijen military Airbase, southern Netherlands. — AFP

SYDNEY, March 14 — Australia said it has begun joint legal action with the Netherlands against Russia at the International Civil Aviation Organisation over the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 eight years ago.

Russia was responsible under international law for the downing of the flight, and action in the United Nations aviation council was a step forward in the fight for justice for 298 victims, including 38 Australians, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a statement on Monday.

The joint action under Article 84 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation is separate to a Dutch murder trial for four suspects over their individual criminal responsibility.

MH17 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014 when it was hit over rebel-held eastern Ukraine by what international investigators and prosecutors say was a Russian-made surface-to-air missile.

Moscow has always denied involvement and has promoted a range of alternative theories, which international investigators have rejected as unsupported by evidence.

A verdict in the murder trial, involving three Russians and a Ukrainian who remain at large, is expected later this year. None of the defendants have attended the Dutch court.

Australia and the Netherlands would rely on evidence MH17 was shot down by a Russian surface-to-air missile system transported from Russia to an area of eastern Ukraine under the control of Russian-backed separatists, and it was accompanied by a Russian military crew, the statement said. — Reuters


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