Russia's involvement in Ukraine key to arguments in MH17 case at human rights court
The Netherlands and Russia are arguing about a crucial condition to indict Russia before the European Court of Human Rights for the downing of flight MH17. On Wednesday, the Netherlands tried to convince the court that Russia was in command of personnel in Eastern Ukraine when the Malaysian Airlines flight exploded in the sky, and thus Russia can be held responsible. Russia strongly denied that standpoint.
It is the first time that the Netherlands denounced Russia's role in the aviation disaster in front of an international judge. The flight departed Amsterdam on July 14, 2014, and flew over Ukraine on its way to Kuala Lumpur. The Boeing 777 was shot out of the sky, killing 298 people, including many Dutch citizens. The court is tasked with deciding whether it will hear the Dutch complaint and complaints from Ukraine about the Russian role in the war in that country. Russia is trying to convince the court in Strasbourg to drop the case.
The Netherlands also gave the floor to surviving relatives of people killed in the disaster. They say they have suffered not only from the plane crash itself but also from Russia's denials and apparent disinterest, emphasized their spokesperson Piet Ploeg. "That which we call the disaster after the disaster." The relatives are eager to finally close this chapter after seven years, as stated in the statements Ploeg read.
Russia argued that the missile that shot down MH17 was fired from Ukrainian territory, and that one cannot speak of real control over such a war zone. Russia argued that the separatist rebels in the east of the country were their own boss. Moreover, Russia argued the West cannot be heard on the matter because it supported the Ukrainian government in Kyiv, Russia's lawyers said.
The Netherlands argued that Russia indeed called the shots in the rebel-held area. The evidence presented in the criminal case in a Dutch court against four men suspected of launching the rocket sufficiently demonstrated this, according to the Dutch lawyers.
The court will likely take several months to decide whether or not to try this case.