THE HAGUE, Jan 8 — Dutch officials will provide free legal advice to relatives of those killed in the downing of flight MH17 over Ukraine for damages claims, the country’s justice minister said yesterday.
Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus also said a joint investigation into the tragedy was nearing completion.
The Malaysia Airlines jet was shot down over war-torn eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 on board.
The Boeing 777 passenger jet was hit by a Russian-made BUK missile while on a routine flight between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur.
In May 2018, the Netherlands and Australia blamed Russia for the disaster.
“Free legal aid is being arranged for relatives wanting to add themselves to the trial” with the aim of claiming for damages, Grapperhaus said.
“It is expected that the investigation into the incident will wrap up some time next year,” he added in a letter to the Dutch parliament.
Local news reports said a trial was due to start within the next five years and would take place in a Dutch court, most likely in The Hague.
Grapperhaus however stressed that damage claims already paid out by parties other than the perpetrators — such as Malaysia Airlines and insurance companies — would not be reconsidered by the courts.
Although five countries — Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine — are investigating the disaster, the majority of victims on the flight were Dutch.
International investigators concluded that the BUK came from a Russian military brigade based in southwestern Kursk which crossed into Ukraine at the time.
Moscow has vehemently denied any responsibility. — AFP