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Relatives of victims of downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 are suing Russia and its President Vladimir Putin in the European Court of Human Rights.

Flight MH17 was shot down by a Russian-made missile over eastern Ukraine in 2014, killing all 298 on board.

The West and Ukraine say Russian-backed rebels were responsible while Russia accuses Ukrainian forces.

The claim is based on the violation of a passenger’s right to life, News.com.au reported.

Photo PA

Photo PA

It is for 10 million Australian dollars ($7.2 million) for each victim, and the lawsuit names both the Russian state and Vladimir Putin as respondents.

Jerry Skinner, a US-based aviation lawyer leading the case, told News.com.au it was difficult for the families to live with, knowing it was “a crime”.

He said: “The Russians don’t have any facts for blaming Ukraine, We have facts, photographs, memorandums, tons of stuff.”

They were waiting to hear from the ECHR whether the case had been accepted, Jerry Skinner said.

The Kremlin said it was unaware of the claim, the Interfax news agency reported, but a senator with Vladimir Putin’s party is quoted in state media as saying it was “legally nonsensical and has no chance”.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, there are 33 next-of-kin named in the application – eight from Australia, one from New Zealand with the rest from Malaysia.

Sydney-based law firm LHD Lawyers is filing the case on behalf of the victims’ families.

Flight MH17 crashed at the height of the conflict between Ukrainian government troops and pro-Russian separatists.

According to a Dutch report released in 2015, the plane was downed by a Russian-made Buk missile, but did not say who fired it.


Most of the victims were Dutch and a separate criminal investigation is still under way.

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Parts of a suspected Russian missile system have been found at Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash site in Ukraine, international investigators say.

Investigators in the Netherlands say the fragments, possibly from a Buk surface-to-air system, are “of particular interest” and could help show who was behind the crash.

However, they say they have not proved their “causal connection” with the crash.

MH17 crashed on land held by Russian-backed rebels in July 2014, killing all 298 on board.

It had 283 passengers on board, including 80 children, and 15 crew members.

About two-thirds of those who died were Dutch nationals, with dozens of Malaysians and Australians among the rest.

Ukraine and many Western countries have accused pro-Russian rebels of shooting down the plane, saying they could have used a Buk missile system supplied by Russia.

Russia and the rebels deny any responsibility and say the Ukrainian military was to blame.MH17 crash site Ukraine

The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) said in a joint statement with the Dutch Safety Board that the parts had been “secured during a previous recovery mission in eastern Ukraine”.

“The parts are of particular interest to the criminal investigation as they can possibly provide more information about who was involved in the crash of MH17. For that reason the JIT further investigates the origin of these parts,” the statement said.

“At present the conclusion cannot be drawn that there is a causal connection between the discovered parts and the crash of flight MH17.”

The investigators would now enlist the help of weapons experts and forensic specialists to examine the parts, the statement added.

The JIT comprises representatives of the Netherlands, Ukraine, Belgium, Malaysia and Australia.

They are meeting in The Hague to discuss a draft report on the causes of the crash, the final version of which is expected to be published by the Dutch Safety Board in October.

The statement comes two weeks after Russia vetoed a draft resolution to set up an international tribunal into the disaster, triggering widespread outrage.

Moscow described the Malaysian initiative as “premature” and “counterproductive”.

Malaysia Airlines’ Boeing 777 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was brought down on July 17, 2014, in Donetsk region.

Germany was told of the risk of flying over eastern Ukraine shortly before Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down last July, but failed to pass on the alert, reports say.

According to diplomatic cables sent two days before the crash, the situation had become “very alarming”, German media say.

The cables cited the downing on July 14 of a Ukrainian air force plane at a height of about 20,000ft.

Flight MH17 was brought down three days later, with the loss of 298 lives.

The Malaysia Airlines plane had been flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur and 196 of those on board were Dutch.

Photo PA

Photo PA

A Dutch-led international inquiry says one of the main scenarios for the disaster was that the plane was shot down by a Russian-made Buk missile launcher.

Investigators have appealed for witnesses to the launcher’s arrival in a rebel-controlled area shortly before the crash. Their final report is due to be published in October.

According to German public TV channels NDR and WDR and Sueddeutsche Zeitung, the foreign ministry cables had assessed the downing of the Antonov military plane on 14 July 2014 as a significant development because of its altitude at the time.

The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 had been flying at 33,000 ft when it was hit.

German intelligence had repeatedly warned of the risk to aviation security, the report adds.

A Lufthansa source tells German media that no communiqué was given to the airline of a change in the situation.

Three Lufthansa planes flew over the area on the day of the disaster – including one 20 minutes beforehand – and it was pure chance that none was hit, the report says. Other German airlines had been avoiding the region for some time.

According to a Dutch preliminary report, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 broke up in mid-air after being hit by “numerous objects” that “pierced the plane at high speed”.

The report released by the Dutch Safety Board said there was “no evidence of technical or human error”.

All 298 people on board died when the plane came down, amid reports it was shot down by pro-Russian rebels.

The plane was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed in eastern Ukraine.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 broke up in mid-air after being hit by numerous objects that pierced the plane at high speed

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 broke up in mid-air after being hit by numerous objects that pierced the plane at high speed (photo EPA)

Dutch aviation investigators relied on information from the black box flight data recorders, air traffic control, satellite images and photos from the scene to compile the preliminary report.

They said the plane “broke up in the air probably as the result of structural damage caused by a large number of high-speed objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside.”

The cockpit voice recorder revealed no signs of any technical faults or an emergency situation, the experts said.

The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 crashed between Krasni Luch in Luhansk region and Shakhtarsk in the region of Donetsk on July 17.

Ukraine’s government and several Western leaders say there is strong evidence that pro-Russian separatists shot down the plane with an anti-aircraft system known as Buk.

Russia has consistently denied allegations that it had supplied any missiles or weapons to the rebels.

Experts from Germany, Australia, Malaysia, the US, the UK, Ukraine and Russia are collaborating on the case.

The board says it expects the final report to be published within a year.

The bodies of 20 Malaysian victims of Flight MH17 that crashed in Ukraine last month have arrived in Kuala Lumpur.

A specially chartered plane took off from Amsterdam and landed around 10:00 local time.

National flags are flying at half-mast for the day of mourning.

Flight MH17 is believed to have been shot down by a missile fired by pro-Russian rebels. They deny the claim.

All 298 passengers and crew on board the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 died on July 17.

From office workers to train drivers, many among the nation of 30 million observed a minute’s silence as white hearses drove the remains from the airport to private funerals in various provinces.

Malaysia’s public transportation, including the national rail system and Kuala Lumpur’s monorail, paused during the minute of silence.

PM Najib Razak, who turned his Twitter and Facebook pages black, wrote a condolence message that was widely shared.

The bodies of 20 Malaysian victims of Flight MH17 that crashed in Ukraine last month have arrived in Kuala Lumpur

The bodies of 20 Malaysian victims of Flight MH17 that crashed in Ukraine last month have arrived in Kuala Lumpur (photo Getty Images)

“Last month, 43 Malaysian lives were taken over eastern Ukraine. Today we mourn the loss of our people. Today, we begin to bring them home.”

“Our thoughts and our prayers are with the families and friends of those who lost their lives. Today we stand with you, united as one.”

Transport minister Liow Tiong Lai said in a statement that the government will “redouble” efforts to bring home the remaining victims.

Malaysia Airlines is organizing a public prayer session and a spokesman also expressed the company’s condolences.

Earlier on Thursday, a contingent of Malaysian soldiers met the plane to escort the coffins to the hearses.

All the coffins were draped in the national flag. Three of the 20 bodies have been cremated in the Netherlands.

The victims’ bodies have been given to their families and relatives to be laid to rest.

This is the first time Malaysia is holding a national day of mourning for civilian victims.

The honor has traditionally been accorded only to the royal family and heads of government.

Of the 43 Malaysian victims, 28 have been identified in the Netherlands so far, which is leading an international investigation into the crash in eastern Ukraine.

More than 200 coffins with remains of the victims have so far been taken to the Netherlands.

The inquiry is being hampered by continuing fighting between Ukrainian government troops and pro-Russian rebels near the crash site.

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