The Netherlands and Australia are both holding Russia liable for its role in the shooting down of flight MH17 in July 2014, Dutch foreign minister Stef Blok said in a statement on Friday.
The decision to hold Russia responsible follows on from Thursday’s report by investigators looking into the crash, who said the Buk missile which brought down the plane was fired by a weapons system in the hands of a Russian brigade.
‘The downing of flight MH17 caused unimaginable suffering,’ Blok said. ‘On the basis of the JIT’s conclusions, the Netherlands and Australia are now convinced that Russia is responsible for the deployment of the Buk installation that was used to down MH17. The government is now taking the next step by formally holding Russia accountable.’
The two countries have now asked Russia to enter into talks aimed at finding a solution and do justice to the suffering and damage caused by disaster, the statement said. A possible next step is to present the case to an international court or organisation for their judgment.
Holding Russia accountable for its part in the downing of flight MH17 is separate from the criminal investigation and any prosecution and trial of the perpetrators of the downing of flight MH17.
‘We call on Russia to accept its responsibility and cooperate fully with the process to establish the truth and achieve justice for the victims of flight MH17 and their next of kin,’ Blok said.
The EU and Nato have also urged Russia to accept responsibility for the incident.
Russia, on Thursday, issued a statement denying all responsibility for the air disaster, in which nearly 300 people died. ‘Not one Russian missile has crossed the border between Russia and Ukraine,’ Dutch media quoted the Russian ministry of defence as saying.
Piet Ploeg of the relatives foundation Vliegramp MH17 told broadcaster NOS he now expects the Dutch government to take action, for example, by taking Russia to court for complicity in the downing of the plane.
‘Until now, everyone has been cautious, but now it is being openly said that Russia kept the information presented today to itself, Ploeg said.
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