Saturday, March 18, 2023

ICAO Agrees To Hear MH17 Case Netherlands, Australia Filed Against Russia

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) decided to hear the case filed by the Netherlands and Australia against Russia over the crash of the MH17 plane in Donbas in 2014, Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said on Saturday.

In March 2022, the Dutch cabinet said that the two countries had filed a joint complaint against Russia with ICAO in the case of the MH17 plane crash.

"Today, the International Civil Aviation Organization has decided to hear the case of the Netherlands and Australia against Russia for the downing of flight #MH17 ... This is an important step towards establishing the truth, justice and accountability," Hoekstra tweeted.

The foreign minister added that both the Netherlands and Australia would continue to make every effort to "find closure" for families of the victims.

In November, the Hague District Court found two Russian citizens, Igor Girkin and Sergei Dubinsky, and Ukrainian citizen Leonid Kharchenko guilty of shooting down the MH17 plane and sentenced them to life imprisonment in absentia.

They also have to pay 16 million Euros ($17.2 million) in damages to families of the victims. The fourth defendant, Russian national Oleg Pulatov, was acquitted of the charges. The Hague court did not directly link the use of the Buk air defense system that led to the plane crash with Moscow, but said that Russia controlled the region where the incident happened at the time.

The MH17 passenger flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia crashed in the Donbas conflict zone on July 17, 2014. All 298 passengers, mostly Dutch citizens, and crew members on board were killed.

In 2016, the Dutch-led international Joint Investigation Team (JIT) concluded that the aircraft was shot by a Russian-made Buk missile that was brought to the Donbas area controlled by independence fighters from a military brigade stationed in the Russian city of Kursk. The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the JIT allegations of Russia's links to the crash were groundless, adding that the investigation was biased and one-sided.

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