Australia, Netherlands launch legal action against Russia over MH17

Kyodo News

Posted at Mar 15 2022 05:33 PM

Ukrainian workers carry the remains EPA-EFE/file
Ukrainian workers carry the remains of victims at the main crash site of the Boeing 777 Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which crashed while flying over the eastern Ukraine on July 20, 2014. Igor Kovalenko, EPA-EFE/file

Australia and the Netherlands have launched legal proceedings against Russia at the UN aviation agency for its suspected role in the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014.

The joint action, announced by the Australian government late Monday, is being taken at the International Civil Aviation Organization and comes in addition to a Dutch criminal trial of three Russians and a Ukrainian accused of murder over their alleged involvement in the crash, which killed all 298 civilians on board.

The civilians included 38 citizens from Australia and 196 from the Netherlands, which believe that the Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in July 2014 was shot down by a Russian surface-to-air missile over rebel-held eastern Ukraine.

Russia, which is now invading Ukraine, has repeatedly denied any involvement in the downing. In October 2020, it unilaterally withdrew from negotiations with Australia and the Netherlands on the issue.

"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," Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement.

"The government will continue to do everything in its power to call Russia to account for the downing of flight MH17 and to uphold the international legal order," Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said in a separate statement. "The current events in Ukraine underscore the vital importance of this."