The families of victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, shot down over Ukraine in 2014, have lodged a compensation claim against Russia and President Vladimir Putin in the European Court of Human Rights.
Families of Australian victims are seeking compensation of AUD 10 million per passenger, the Sydney Morning Herald reported, adding that the claim “could result in one of the largest aviation disaster payouts in history”.
The application by Sydney law firm LHD Lawyers names 33 next-of-kin of victims, including people from Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia, the paper reported.
MH17 crashed in Ukraine in pro-Russian rebel-held territory on 17 July 2014, killing all 298 people aboard, including 28 Australians. The aircraft, flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down by a Russian-made surface-to-air missile, the Dutch Safety Board concluded in its final report late last year.
The Dutch Safety Board was not authorised to attribute blame and did not do so.
Russia has always strongly denied its forces were responsible. Four days after the crash, two senior Russian generals accused the Ukrainian government of deliberately moving MH17 off its flight path. Russia suggested a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter jet shot MH17 down. Russian investigators alleged that Dutch experts deliberately ignored the findings of their Russian counterparts and turned a blind eye to evidence presented to them.
Earlier this month, the BBC screened a controversial new documentary titled Conspiracy Files: Who Shot Down MH17?
The BBC documentary, which examines various theories, is likely to screen in Australia. Some of the theories have been aired before. See Russia names pilot ‘who shot down MH17’ but mystery persists and Disturbing new theories emerge over MH17 shoot-down
The BBC has spoken with Billy Six, an investigative journalist from Berlin, who spent four months in Ukraine and interviewed more than 100 people in the rebel-controlled area around the crash site. Seven people told him they saw a fighter jet on the day MH17 crashed, and one said he saw a missile being launched from a plane. Billy Six thinks two fighter jets shot down MH17 – one firing its cannon, the other firing a missile.
Other investigators, however, think MH17 was hit by a ground-to-air missile, as the Dutch inquiry concluded.
As for the lawsuit against Putin and Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists there was no lawsuit “de jure” [as a matter of law] because “the lawsuit becomes a lawsuit when it is accepted for consideration by the court, and when the court appropriately informs the side or country against which it is filed”.
“The court itself makes a decision on whether it will consider the legal recourse or whether it has no prospects,” Peskov told Russia’s TASS news agency, adding that none of that process had yet happened.
Written by Peter Needham