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Families of MH17 plane crash victims file ECHR lawsuit against Russia

The families accuse Russia of allegedly violating their basic rights by destroying the aircraft and obstructing the investigation into the crash

THE HAGUE, November 23. /TASS/. Families of 55 victims of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 crash in Donbass have filed a lawsuit with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), the Nederlandse Omroep Stichting (NOS) broadcaster reported on Friday.

According to NOS, the families accuse Russia of violating their basic rights by destroying the aircraft and obstructing the investigation. The plaintiffs believe that Russia should be held accountable and an ECHR verdict will be an important step in that direction.

"In my clients’ view, Russia failed to provide important information to the Joint Investigation Team [JIT]," lawyer Veeru Mewa said. According to him, the lawsuit has been filed on Friday because tomorrow will be six months since the JIT presented evidence allegedly proving Russia’s involvement in the crash. According to the ECHR rules, a lawsuit can be filed within six months following the emergence of new facts.

"We know that all national mechanisms must be employed before a lawsuit can be filed with the ECHR," the lawyer went on to say. "However, in this case it is very difficult, and we don’t believe that it will happen so we decided to go straight to the court and we hope the court will accept the lawsuit," Mewa said, adding that proceedings in the case might take five to seven years.

MH17 crash

The Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, a Boeing-777 passenger plane travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down on July 17, 2014, over Ukraine’s eastern region of Donetsk. The crash killed all the 283 passengers and 15 crewmembers. There were nationals of ten states among the dead. The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) looking into the crash comprises representatives of the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine. The parties to the armed conflict in Donbass accused each other of being complicit in the tragedy.

On May 24, the JIT released an update on the criminal investigation into the MH17 crash, claiming that "the BUK-TELAR that was used to down MH17, originates from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile brigade... a unit of the Russian army from Kursk in the Russian Federation."

Russia’s Defense Ministry rejected all the allegations and said that none of the missile systems belonging to the Russian Armed Forces had ever been taken abroad. The missile, which downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was made in the town of Dolgoprudny outside Moscow in 1986, delivered to a military unit deployed to Ukraine and was never brought back to Russia, Chief of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Missile and Artillery Department Lieutenant General Nikolai Parshin said at a briefing.

Nevertheless, on May 25, Australia and the Netherlands issued a statement saying that they "hold Russia responsible for its part in the downing of flight MH17." "The Netherlands and Australia are now convinced that Russia is responsible for the deployment of the Buk installation that was used to down MH17," the statement reads.