Aussie firm files MH17 compensation claim against Russia

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Australia-based firm LHD Lawyers has filed a compensation claim against Russia and President Valdimir Putin in the European Court of Human Rights, on behalf of families of victims of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17.

The compensation claim, which includes the application from 33 relatives of victims from Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia, is seeking $10m per passenger, according to reports by Fairfax.

All 298 people on the flight died when it was shot down by a Russian-made missile, according to the Dutch Safety Board report, released last year, landing in Ukraine in pro-Russian rebel-held territory in July of 2014.  The board was not empowered to point the finger at any group or party who may be held responsible.

Kremlin officials said the missile must have been launched by Ukrainian government forces, claiming Moscow no longer uses the model of Buk which was said to have hit the plane.

“So far we don't have [such information],” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Interfax news agency when asked to comment on reports of the compensation claim.
But Jerry Skinner, LHD Lawyers co-associate, names Putin and Russia as respondents in the claim filed on May 9, over 3,500 pages in length.

“We're all sitting with our fingers crossed - there are some legal determinations they will have to make,” Skinner told News Corp.

“We didn't go to Russia and file suit in Moscow because it's absolute nonsense to think we could have a realistic chance of success.

“We plead futility, we plead danger and we plead their lack of co-operation.”

Twenty-eight Australians were on board the flight, which was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. 

After Russia vetoed a United Nations bid in July of last year to form a tribunal, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium and Ukraine have been exploring alternative options, including trials in international and national courts.