Holland and Australia sue Russia for downing MH17


The Dutch and Australian governments have launched a legal case against Russia to hold it accountable for its alleged role in shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in 2014, which led to the deaths of all 298 people on board.

The case has been filed at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Montreal, Canada.

The case was announced this week in the Hague and Canberra. The filing is the latest effort to hold Moscow legally responsible for bringing down the passenger jet flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur over eastern Ukraine on 17th July, 2014.

Moscow denies involvement in the incident.

According to an international investigation, the flight was shot down over territory held by separatist rebels using a Buk missile system, which was driven into Ukraine from a Russian military base.

The Dutch government said the case’s timing is not connected to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but Foreign Affairs Minister Wopke Hoekstra stressed that his country’s government would exert all efforts to hold Russia responsible.

“The deaths of 298 civilians, including 196 Dutch citizens, cannot remain without consequences. The current events in Ukraine underscore the crucial importance of that,” he said.

In a statement, the Australian government said, “Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine and the escalation of its aggression underscores the need to continue our enduring efforts to hold Russia to account for its blatant violation of international law and the UN Charter, including threats to Ukraine’s sovereignty and airspace.”

The victims included 38 Australian citizens.

The Dutch tried, in absentia, three Russians and a Ukrainian for their alleged roles in the downing of MH17, with the verdicts expected late this year. Prosecutors have sought life sentences for the suspects.

The new ICAO case follows Russia’s decision, in October 2020, to exit negotiations with the Netherlands and Australia over state responsibility for the incident.

The latest legal action aims to secure international recognition “that Russia is responsible for the MH17 disaster. Next of kin have a right to that,” said Dutch Infrastructure Minister Mark Harbers.