Dutch government brings Russia to court over MH17 downing

The Dutch government announced that it would bring Russia before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) “for its role in the destruction of flight MH17”. The flight had been shot down over Ukraine in 2014, killing 298 people.

“Achieving justice for the 298 victims of the downing of flight MH17 and their relatives is and remains the highest priority for the cabinet,” Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said in a statement. “With the step, we are taking today, by bringing the case to the ECHR and thereby supporting the claims of the victims’ relatives as much as possible, we are getting closer to our goal.” 

In November 2018, the relatives of 65 Dutch people who died in the crash brought Russia before the ECHR, asking for Moscow to admit its responsibility. 

Despite the latest legal action, the Dutch authorities expressed their will to maintain the dialogue with Russia, in order to find “a solution that does justice to the enormous suffering and damage” caused by the crash.

On July 17, 2014, a Boeing 777 of Malaysia Airlines flying from Amsterdam (The Netherlands) to Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) was shot down above Eastern Ukraine, near Donetsk. The 283 passengers (including 193 Dutch victims) and 15 crew members all died in the crash. 

In 2014, an independent journalist team named Bellingcat concluded that the weapon that brought down the plane was a Russian-made anti-air BUK missile. In 2018, the International Criminal Investigation Team (JIT) determined that the missile fired from an area controlled by the pro-Russian separatists was supplied by the 53rd anti-air brigade of the Russian army based in Kursk.

Russia has repeatedly denied the conclusions of both Bellingcat and JIT investigations and put instead the blame on the Ukrainian army. Nonetheless, in March 2020, a Dutch court tried four senior officers (three Russians, one Ukrainian) of the pro-Russian separatist faction in absentia for murder.


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