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Australia, Netherlands start legal action against Russia for downing of MH17

THE STRAITS TIMES – Australia and the Netherlands said they had begun joint legal action against Russia at the International Civil Aviation Organisation over the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 eight years ago.

Russia was responsible under international law for the downing of the flight, and action in the United Nations (UN) aviation council was a step forward in the fight for justice for 298 victims, including 38 Australians, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a statement yesterday.

Australia said the incident was a clear breach of a convention to protect civilian aircraft from weapons fire. The Dutch government said in a statement the UN Security Council had also been informed of the step.

Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said in the statement: “The death of 298 civilians, including 196 Dutch, cannot and should not remain without consequences.”

“The current events in Ukraine underscore the vital importance of this.”

The joint action under Article 84 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation is separate to a Dutch murder trial for four suspects over their individual criminal responsibility.

Australia said it was seeking full reparations from Russia for the injury caused, and the suspension of Russia’s voting power in the aviation council, which sets standards for civilian air travel.

“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, including threats to Ukraine’s sovereignty and airspace,” Morrison and Payne said in the statement.

MH17 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014 when it was hit over rebel-held eastern Ukraine by a Russian-made surface-to-air missile.