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Netherlands, Australia bring another case against Russia over downing of MH17

Legal complaints over the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014 have been filed in multiple international venues, now including a United Nations aviation body.

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (CN) — The Netherlands and Australia have launched a case at the United Nations' aviation organization over liability for the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 after talks with Moscow fell apart. 

In a joint announcement on Monday morning, the two countries said they had filed a complaint with the International Civil Aviation Organization claiming the Russian Federation violated the 1944 Chicago Convention by shooting down the Boeing 777 passenger jet over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, killing everyone on board. 

“The death of 298 civilians, including 196 Dutch, cannot and should not remain without consequences. The current events in Ukraine underline the crucial importance of this,” Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Wopke Hoekstra said in a statement

A five-country joint investigation team, led by the Dutch, concluded in 2016 that MH17 had been shot down by a Buk missile from an area of eastern Ukraine held by Russian-backed separatists. According to investigators, the surface-to-air missile belonged to the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade of the Russian military and was transported into Ukraine from Russia. 

The Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation regulates air space and air travel, including establishing the International Civil Aviation Organization to adjudicate disputes. The treaty, signed by 193 countries, gives countries sovereignty over their own air and outlaws the use of weapons against civilian aircraft.

"The ICAO Council is empowered to consider serious breaches of international law,” Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne told reporters during a press conference on Monday. Twenty-seven of the people who died on the plane were from Australia.

The tragedy is the subject of multiple legal complaints. In a joint case with Ukraine before the European Court of Human Rights, the Netherlands argues Russian-backed separatists were in control of the farm field near Pervomaiskyi where the missile was launched. In another ongoing case before the U.N.'s high court, the International Court of Justice, the downing of MH17 is one of several issues Ukraine wants Russia to be held accountable for. In addition, three Russians and one Ukrainian are currently facing murder charges before a Dutch criminal court. Prosecutors say they were responsible for supplying the missile and have asked for a rare life sentence

Moscow has denied culpability for the disaster, claiming the plane was shot down by the Ukrainian military. Since it invaded Ukraine two weeks ago, Russia has quit the Council of Europe, which oversees the European Court of Human Rights, and refused to turn up for hearings in another case before the International Court of Justice

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