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Human rights trial against Russia over downing of flight MH17 to go ahead | Malaysia Airlines flight MH17

Human rights judges have said cases against Russia for the downing of flight MH17 and other alleged war crimes could be taken to court as they ruled that separatist-held areas of eastern Ukraine are under de facto control of the Russian Federation.

All 298 people on board a Malaysian Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur died when it was hit by a Russian anti-aircraft missile while flying over eastern Ukraine in 2014 during the war in Donbass.

The Netherlands, whose citizens account for 196 deaths, are seeking to initiate proceedings against Russia for violating the European Convention on Human Rights in connection with the atrocity.

On Wednesday, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that the case could proceed because Russia had de facto control over separatist areas in eastern Ukraine from May 11, 2014 until at least January 26, 2022 (when the admissibility hearing took place). The judges cited Russia’s military presence in the region, the degree of its influence on the separatists’ military strategy, the supply of weapons and military equipment to them, and political support.

The ECHR said that the fact that Russia ceased to be a party to the European Convention on Human Rights in September does not matter, since the events took place before that date.

Dutch Minister of Justice Dylan Jeschilgoz-Segerius tweeted: “Very good news: the decision of the European Court of Human Rights is another important step in the search for truth and justice for the victims and their relatives of the flight.”

The Strasbourg Court came to the same conclusions regarding statements by the government of Ukraine in connection with the conflict in Donbas, including about alleged illegal military attacks on civilians and torture of civilians and Ukrainian military personnel. However, the judges said that the question of whether complaints about the bombing and shelling of territories outside separatist and effective Russian control could fall under Russian jurisdiction would need to be examined in court.

They noted that about 8,500 individual applications are pending in connection with events in Crimea, eastern Ukraine, the Sea of ​​Azov and the Russian invasion that began in February 2022.

Ben Emmerson KC, international adviser to the government of Ukraine, said the ECtHR decision “shows that President Putin cannot escape the long arm of international law.”

He said the decision meant that despite Russia no longer being a party to the European Convention on Human Rights, the ECtHR “nevertheless retains jurisdiction to hold Russia accountable, draw legally binding findings of Russian guilt and award reparations.” for the Russian war. crimes, including the killing of civilians in Ukraine, the downing of passenger flight MH17, the torture and murder of prisoners of war, the destruction and misappropriation of private property, the abduction by Russian troops of three groups of orphans and their forced transfer to Russia.”

Last November, a Dutch court found three people guilty of killing 298 people aboard flight MH17. Russian citizens Igor Girkin and Sergei Dubinsky and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko were sentenced to life imprisonment but remain at large.

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