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Saturday 23 June 2018

Netherlands and Australia hold Russia legally responsible for downing MH17 plane

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine nearly four years ago, killing 298 people.

Stef Blok
Stef Blok

By AP Reporters

The Netherlands and Australia are holding Russia legally responsible for the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

It was shot down over war-ravaged eastern Ukraine nearly four years ago, killing all 298 people on board.

The announcement came a day after international investigators announced that the missile system that brought down the Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur flight came from a Russia-based military unit.

Dutch foreign minister Stef Blok said following that conclusion “the government is now taking the next step by formally holding Russia accountable”.

He said the Netherlands and Australia have “asked Russia to enter into talks aimed at finding a solution that would do justice to the tremendous suffering and damage caused by the downing of MH17”.

Russia denies involvement in the July 17 2014 missile strike.

Bodies, debris and burning wreckage were strewn over a field of sunflowers near the rebel-held village of Hrabove in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, about 25 miles from the Russian border, where fighting had been raging for months.

The father of one of the passengers on the Boeing 777 welcomed the move.

“This is great news,” said Hans de Borst, who lost his daughter Elsemiek. “I understand why the government waited, but now the evidence is clear.”

Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop called for support from the international community for the move.

“This represents a threat to international security,” she said.

“If military weapons can be deployed and then used to bring down civilian aircraft in what was essentially a war zone, then international security is at risk and we call on all countries to inform the Russian Federation that its conduct is unacceptable.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, rejected the accusations.

He said Moscow has been barred from the investigation and cannot trust its results, and claimed Ukraine contributed to the tragedy by failing to ban civilian air traffic over the war zone.

The Russian Defence Ministry claimed the missile that downed MH17 “more than likely” came from Ukrainian arsenals.

The ministry said fragments displayed by investigators indicated the Soviet-made missile was produced in 1986. It said the Russian military decommissioned all missiles of that type in 2011.

It added that Ukraine inherited such missiles from the Soviet army, adding that the fragments indicated the weapon “more than likely belonged to the Ukrainian armed forces”.

Press Association

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