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The Netherlands can bring case against Russia over downed Malaysian airlines flight, court rules

The Netherlands can bring a case before the European Court of Human Rights over the Malaysia Airlines flight that was shot down over Russian-backed separatist territories in eastern Ukraine in July 2014, killing 298 people, the court ruled Wednesday.

The Dutch have argued that, given its support for the self-proclaimed republics of Luhansk and Donetsk, Russia was responsible for the crash, in which 196 Dutch nationals were killed.

The court found that “areas in eastern Ukraine in separatist hands were, from 11 May 2014 and up to at least 26 January 2022, under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation,” given Russia’s political, economic and military assistance — including the deployment of troops — to the separatist territories.

As a result, the ECHR stated the Dutch complaint was admissible. The same applies to a related case brought by Ukraine against Russia over alleged human rights abuses committed by separatist and Russian forces in Luhansk and Donetsk, including attacks on civilians and forced labor.

The court will issue a final ruling at a later, unspecified date.

Having been excluded from the Council of Europe, Russia has not been a party to the European Convention on Human Rights since last September. However, it can still be held accountable for actions committed before that date.

If found guilty, Russia could be held liable for damages to the relatives of victims.

Wilhelmine Preussen contributed reporting.

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