Crash Malaysia Airlines MH17
n Thursday, 17 July 2014 Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed near the border between Russia and the Ukraine. All passengers, including 196 Dutch nationals, were killed. The sadness of their families defies description. They are angry and do not understand how this could happen and who is responsible.
In its initial findings the Dutch Safety Board pointed to an external cause for the crash. Meanwhile the Board published its final report on 13 October 2015, revealing that the crash was due to the explosion of a 9N314M BUK missile launched from the eastern Ukraine. The Dutch Safety Board furthermore concluded that even before 17 July 2014 the Ukraine had had sufficient reason to close the airspace over the eastern Ukraine as a precaution. None of the parties involved recognised the risks of the armed conflict to civil aviation flying over this part of the Ukraine. Although the report does not pin down liability for this tragedy, it does provide answers to several questions that have haunted the family members for a long time.
Under the applicable convention (the Montreal Convention) surviving relatives have two years to bring claims against Malaysia Airlines. If it can prove that it was not at fault the airline’s liability is limited to € 130,000 approximately per passenger. If the airline fails to demonstrate that it was not culpable, there will be no limits to its liability. Beer advocaten takes the position that the Dutch Safety Board’s report clearly shows that Malaysia Airlines cannot prove that it is not to blame. The compensation to be paid by the airline could be unlimited, therefore. The amount to be paid to the surviving relatives will have to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Beer advocaten represents 100 victims of the crash in handling their claims.
Meanwhile Beer advocaten’s aviation team has reached amicable settlements with Malaysia Airlines for the surviving relatives. With the help of its international network Beer advocaten’s aviation team is currently exploring the possibilities of holding parties liable other than Malaysia Airlines. In that context a complaint was filed in November 2018 with the European Human Rights Court (EHRC) on behalf of the surviving relatives. The EHRC has taken the complaint officially under consideration, and has asked Russia to respond in writing to the complaint.
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