Home / World News / MH17: Australia launches legal action against Russia for downing Malaysia Airlines flight

MH17: Australia launches legal action against Russia for downing Malaysia Airlines flight

Australia and the Netherlands have initiated legal action against Russia for the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, in what’s been described as a “major step forward” in the fight for truth and justice.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine underscored the need to continue to hold Russia to account.

In a joint statement with Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Attorney-General Michaelia Cash on Monday evening, it was announced Australia and the Netherlands had jointly begun legal proceedings against the Russian Federation in the International Civil Aviation Organisation, which is a specialised agency of the United Nations.

“We have maintained since May 2018 that the Russian Federation is responsible under international law for the downing of Flight MH17,” they said.

Marise Payne
Camera IconForeign Minister Marise Payne was part of a joint statement that described the legal action as a ‘major step forward’. NCA NewsWire / Flavio Brancaleone Credit: News Corp Australia

“Today’s joint action by Australia and the Netherlands is a major step forward in both countries’ fight for truth, justice and accountability for this horrific act of violence, which claimed the lives of 298 victims, 38 of whom called Australia home.”

In October 2020, Russia unilaterally withdrew from negotiations with Australia and the Netherlands regarding Flight MH17, refusing to return despite repeated requests.

“The Russian Federation’s refusal to take responsibility for its role in the downing of Flight MH17 is unacceptable and the Australian government has always said that it will not exclude any legal options in our pursuit of justice,” the statement said.

“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.”

The joint action by Australia and the Netherlands under Article 84 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation will rely on overwhelming evidence that:

• the doomed Malaysia Airlines flight was shot down by a Russian Buk-TELAR surface-to-air missile system

• the missile system was transported from Russia to an agricultural field in the east of Ukraine on the morning of 17 July 2014 – an area under the control of Russian-backed separatists

• the missile system belonged to the Russian Federation’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Military Brigade, and was accompanied by a trained Russian military crew

• the Buk-TELAR fired the missile that shot down Flight MH17

• the missile could only have been fired by the trained Russian crew of the Buk-TELAR, or at least by someone acting under their instruction, direction or control

• the Buk missile system was returned to the Russian Federation shortly after the downing of Flight MH17

Senator Cash said that they would be seeking for the ICAO to declare that Russia breached the Chicago convention, which “requires states to refrain from using weapons against civil aircraft in flight”.

They also want ICAO to order Russian officials to immediately enter good faith negotiations to resolve “expeditiously the matters of full reparation for the injury caused by Russia’s breach”.

Russia’s voting power in the ICAO assembly would also be suspended.

“What we are looking for is truth, justice and accountability,” Senator Cash said.

Tony Abbott, who was Prime Minister when the horrific disaster occurred, said he was “pleased” Australia was taking steps to hold Russia accountable in an international tribunal.

“It’s been obvious since July 2014 that MH17 was downed by a Russian missile battery and that 298 lives (including 38 Australians) were dead at Russia’s hands,” he said.

“All the subsequent investigations and proceedings have confirmed the satellite evidence that was available then – that the battery came out of Russia, fired, and then returned.

“Obviously Russian missile batteries don’t casually leave Russia to fire their weapons.

“Plainly the Russian government had deployed this weapon in support of Russia’s proxy takeover of the Donbas.

“The denials from Vladimir Putin are simply barefaced lies.”

This legal action is in addition to the Dutch national prosecution of four suspects for their individual criminal responsibility in the downing of Flight MH17.

Prosecutors have called for life sentences for Russians Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinsky and Igor Pulatov, as well as Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko, who are being tried in absentia.

They were officials in the pro-Russian Donetsk People’s Republic fighting for independence from Ukraine.

Earlier on Monday, Senator Payne announced fresh sanctions would be slapped on 33 Russian Oligarchs and some of their wives and children due to the war in Ukraine.

Among them was Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich.

About brandsauthority

Check Also

Premier rejects fears over luring child protection boss

South Australia can compete with other jurisdictions in the hunt for a new child protection …

%d bloggers like this: