Accessibility links

Breaking News

Australia, The Netherlands Start Legal Action Against Russia Over Airline Tragedy


FILE - People stand with Orthodox crosses and icons as they attend a memorial service at the crash site of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, July 17, 2015.

SYDNEY — The families of Australians killed in the downing of a Malaysia passenger airliner over Ukraine in 2014 have welcomed Canberra’s decision to launch legal action against Russia.

All 298 people on board, including 38 Australian citizens and residents, died when a Russian-made Buk missile hit the plane. Both Australia and the Netherlands maintain Russia was responsible under international law for the attack, and have now initiated legal proceedings in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was en route from Amsterdam in the Netherlands to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, when it was shot down over eastern Ukraine.

International prosecutors believe it was downed by a Russian-made surface-to-air missile.

All 298 people on board the plane were killed, including 38 Australians.

Australia and the Netherlands maintain that Russia was responsible under international law for the attack and have now initiated legal proceedings in the International Civil Aviation Organization, an agency of the United Nations with responsibilities to promote safe international air transport.

FILE - A relative of the Australian victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 reacts during a service for the unveiling of a memorial outside Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, July 17, 2015.
FILE - A relative of the Australian victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 reacts during a service for the unveiling of a memorial outside Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, July 17, 2015.


Its task is to mediate between countries and does have the power to impose sanctions against a member state found to have breached international laws. It could, eventually, demand that Russia pay compensation to victims’ families of the MH17 tragedy.

Legal experts have said the court action launched by Australia and the Netherlands is unlikely to worry the Kremlin. The Russian government has denied any involvement in the downing of the Malaysian Airlines jet.

Paul Guard’s parents, Roger and Jill, were among the Australians who died.

He told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that he supports the legal action.

“I do support all actions to try to hold Russia accountable because at the end of the day, families really just want the truth, and they just want an apology,” Guard said. “Most families would be a lot happier, or at least partly satisfied if Russia acknowledged the facts of what happened and owned up to its role.”

Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne in Melbourne, Australia, Feb. 12, 2022.
Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne in Melbourne, Australia, Feb. 12, 2022.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the legal action was an “important step in the fight for truth, justice and accountability” for the MH17 victims.

Payne said the invasion of Ukraine is another sign of Russian aggression.

“There is no doubt that Russia’s invasion has been a painful reminder to those who lost loved ones on flight MH17,” Payne said

Dutch prosecutors have demanded life sentences for four suspects — three Russians and a Ukrainian — who are on trial for their alleged involvement in the attack on flight MH17. The men are being tried in absentia. Verdicts are not expected until next year at the earliest.

Recommended

XS
SM
MD
LG