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Netherlands Takes Russia To European Rights Court Over MH17 Downing

Debris from Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 near Donetsk on July 17, 2014
Debris from Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 near Donetsk on July 17, 2014

The Dutch government is taking Russia to the European Court of Human Rights for its alleged role in the downing of Malaysia Airlines passenger flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014.

Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said July 10 that the move is designed to support individual cases filed by relatives of some of the victims at the Strasbourg-based court.

“By taking this course of action the government is offering maximum support to these individual cases,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

MH17 was shot down on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur by a Russian-made Buk surface-to-air missile fired from territory controlled by Moscow-backed separatists in the east of Ukraine. Nearly two-thirds of the 298 victims were Dutch nationals.

By launching an inter-state case against Russia, the Dutch government will share “all available and relevant information about the downing of Flight MH17” with the European court to support individual cases filed against Russia, the Foreign Ministry said.

The relatives of at least 65 Dutch victims in 2018 filed a complaint at the Strasbourg-based court.

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“As a government, we have information, evidence, that leads us to the conclusion of the involvement of the Russian Federation,” Blok told the AP news agency. “Of course, the relatives themselves do not have all this information so we can help them by starting this procedure.”

Moscow has denied any involvement in the conflict in parts of eastern Ukraine and has offered several possible theories about how MH17 was blown out of the sky, including that it was shot down by a Ukrainian Air Force jet or by Ukrainian ground forces using a Buk system.

Separately, a Dutch court in The Hague is also hearing a case against four suspects in the 2014 downing of the aircraft.

Following a six-year international investigation, prosecutors have argued that the aircraft was shot down by a Russian-made Buk antiaircraft system fired by Russia-backed separatist fighters who had acquired it from a Russian military base on the border between the two countries.

The four suspects -- Russians Sergei Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov, and Igor Girkin, and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko -- are being tried in absentia for involvement in the tragedy.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters
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