Australia and the Netherlands have decided to officially hold Russia accountable for its role in downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in 2014, paving the way for the two countries to possibly take legal action against Moscow.
MH17, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 people on board. In a report from the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) issued Thursday, international investigators said the Buk anti-aircraft system used to bring down the jet belonged to the Russian military.
“The Netherlands and Australia are now convinced that Russia is responsible for the deployment of the Buk installation that was used to down MH17,” Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Stef Blok said in a statement on Friday.
“The government is now taking the next step by formally holding Russia accountable,” Blok said.
“Australia and the Netherlands have informed the Russian Federation that we hold it responsible under international law for its role in the downing of MH17,” Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said.
Bishop and Blok said their governments asked Russia on Friday to enter talks about its role in the disaster in order to find a solution “that would do justice to the tremendous suffering and damage” caused by the downing.
The case could next be presented to an international court or organization for judgement, the Dutch and Australian governments said.
The son of an Australian couple killed in the disaster said earlier Friday the international community should pressure Russia to take responsibility after investigators found its military missile brought down the flight.
“It’s good to see some strong evidence that Russia was involved,” Paul Guard, who lost his parents Jill and Roger in the disaster, told Australian broadcaster ABC.
“Clearly, Russia has a lot of questions to answer as to what its missile launcher was doing there and why it was involved in this war in the first place.”
He said governments have a problem in acknowledging their involvement “in these sorts of things.”
“The US, I think, took over 10 years to acknowledge the shooting down of an Iranian jet. I’m not expecting anything anytime soon.”