MH17 relatives entitled to millions in damages: U.S. court
A group of MH17 victims' relatives won a lawsuit in a United States court which entitles them to hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, television program Zembla reports based on court documents. A total of 25 surviving relatives, including 10 Dutch, took part in this lawsuit filed against Igor Girkin, a leader among pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. The American court ruled that each surviving relative in the lawsuit is entitled to 20 million dollars in compensation.
Girkin was not present at the lawsuit, and he could not be found at his home address in Moscow, according to Zembla. The chance of the relatives getting the damages they are entitled to is therefore very small.
"It was never about the amount of money", Floyd Wisner, the American lawyer who represented the family members in this lawsuit, said to Zembla. "The large amount of money was really only to make an impression, bring this to the world stage. That's the important thing. The aim was never really just to collect this kind of money from [Girkin], it's to try to get justice for these families. To shed some light on this terrible tragedy they've gone through. And to get the world to focus on it, to hold the people responsible like Mr. Girkin."
The Dutch who formed part of this lawsuit are pleased with the verdict. "We assume that it can not be collected. You can't pick a bald chicken. This is also more symbolic. Now they're still gettting away with it. If there is something we can think of to make the lives of those involved miserable, we will not ignore it", Silene Fredriksz, mother of MH17 victim Bryce Fredriksz, said to the program.
"This is one of the ways to keep the issue at the top of the agenda. And that is completely legitimate", Piet Ploeg, chairman of foundation Vliegramp MH17, said to Zembla. "The opinions on this case are rather divided. The question is whether this ruling will have any effect. As Foundation, we take no position on court cases. It is the choice of the relatives which ones they will join. Because it is also very important to keep attention on what happened. And it is important to keep the topic on the map."
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17th, 2014. All 298 people on board the plane were killed, including 196 Dutch. So far investigation revealed that the Boeing 777 was shot down by a BUK missile system, fired from a field in Ukraine that was under the control of pro-Russian separatists at the time. Investigators also managed to track the transport of the BUK missile from Russia to the field and back.