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Netherlands takes Russia to European Court of Human Rights over MH17 flight downing

The Netherlands filed an inter-state complaint against Russia in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) Friday over its role in the downing of a Malaysian Airlines flight six years ago.

Flight MH17 was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in July 2014 when it crashed in Eastern Ukraine; all 298 passengers and crew on board were killed, 193 of whom were Dutch citizens. Dutch prosecutors proceeded to launch a war crimes investigation, as the crash occurred during a political and military crisis between Russia and Ukraine. It is believed the airliner was shot down by a Buk surface-to-air missile. Russia has denied any involvement in the crash, going so far as to veto a UN Security Council resolution that would have created an independent tribunal to prosecute those involved in the crash.

Article 33 of the European Convention on Human Rights provides that “any High Contracting Party may refer to the Court any alleged breach of the provisions of the Convention and the Protocols thereto by another High Contracting Party.” By invoking Article 33, the Netherlands is sharing all their information regarding the downing of MH-17 with the Court, and it allows the Netherlands to support the cases brought by next-of-kin against Russia. The next-of-kin cases allege that Russia was either directly or indirectly responsible for the downing of the airliner as well as failed to investigate the crash or cooperate with international investigations properly.

Russia continues to deny any role in the crash, and Russia’s foreign minister Maria Zakharova referred to the inter-state complaint as “another blow” to Russia-Netherlands relations. Netherlands foreign minister Stef Blok said that “Achieving justice for 298 victims of the downing of Flight MH17 is and will remain the government’s highest priority.” The Netherlands’ government maintains that all legal remedies are on the table.