Ukraine, Russia face off in MH17 lawsuit in ICJ

The Ukraine and Russia are facing off in a lawsuit filed by the Ukraine at the international Court of Justice in The Hague from today. Kiev wants the ICJ to condemn "Russian aggression" and order the country to pay compensation for all "fatal events", including the downing of flight MH17 in 2014, AD reports.

According to Ukraine, Russia violated two international conventions regarding the financing of terrorism and racial discrimination. Kiev is accusing Moscow of the "illegal annexation" of Crimea, "illegal arms supply" of separatists and terrorism and discrimination against Ukrainians and Tatars in Crimea. 

If the court convicts Russia, Ukraine wants the return of the Crimea and a ban on any interference form Russia with separatists. Kiev also wants financial compensation for all "fatal events.

This includes the disaster with Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 17th, 2014. All 298 people on board the plane were killed when the Boeing was shot down over eastern Ukraine. Among the victims were 196 Dutch.

The preliminary results of an international investigation into the disaster concluded that the plane was shot down from within a separatist controlled area in the Ukraine. It was shot down with a Russian BUK missile system, which the investigators were able to track moving from the Russian border to the field from which MH17 was shot down, and then back again after the disaster. 

Moscow calls these results "biased and politically motivated". According to the Kremlin, no missile systems ever crossed the border from Russia to the Ukraine. 

Ukraine is turning to the International Court of Justice because all other means have been exhausted, Foreign Minister Pavel Klimkin said, according to AD. "For over two years we've tried to settle the conflict through negotiations, but Russia will not cease its human rights violations", according to hte Minister. 

The International Court of Justice is the main judicial body within the United Nations and is located in the Peace Palace in the Hague. The court has 15 judges that rule on legal disputes between countries. Should the ICJ rule in favor of a criminal case in this trial, hearings for which start today, the outcome is binding to all parties and there is no possibility of appeal. 

Relatives of MH17 victims are following the trial, but at a distance, Thomas Schansman, member of the MH17 commission of truth, said to the newspaper. "We are not part of this", he said. "With the government we have taken other steps against Russia. That is our priority."

Antoinette Collignon, spokesperson for the core team of damage lawyers MH17, told AD that "everything that happens to get to the truth is important. Including the hearings of the International Court of Justice".