In a Sunny July day in 2014, a rocket of the Russian manufacture of a class “earth-air” exploded a few meters away from the plane of Malaysian airlines that was flying at cruising altitude. The explosion sent hundreds of pieces in the Boeing 777 that broke apart and fell in the fields in the East of Ukraine. All 298 people on Board were killed.
Three years later, the families of passengers and crew are still waiting for the trial, which the UN prevents Russia. She is trying to block the international Tribunal, assembled at the one who ruled after the bombing by terrorists of Pan Am aircraft in 2007 over Scotland.
This week, five countries, investigating the Downing of flight MH17, said that the criminal process when he was held, will be held in the Netherlands, where he was born nearly 200 victims.
“This solution is our next step on the path to uncovering the truth, to prosecute suspects and to meet the requirements of those who have lost relatives”, — said in his statement, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands mark Rutte.
The joint investigation team, which also includes Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine, continues to bring to justice those responsible for this act, and to identify individual suspects.
Officials did not say when they may start the proceedings. It is known that the investigation is ongoing in respect of about 100 people that can be involved in this case.
“We have to keep faith in the fact that [the court] will take place, although this will not happen in the next six months, even a year,” said Dennis Schouten, Chairman of the Foundation of the crash MH17. His brother in law, 37-year-old Donnie Cadicamo and wife Cadicamo, 41-year-old Analyn Misran, was on the plane.
“Of course, I wish the trial to be held next week, but this will not” — he said.
Although the choice of location for future trial may seem like a small step, the statement made in connection with the third anniversary of the disaster, suggests that there is a need to bring the case to the end, and also shows the public that the investigation is continuing. It is unclear if it will reach its goal.
The investigation is progressing with the speed of a turtle, especially in the question of exactly who sent a missile system from the battlefield in Eastern Ukraine. “Case — within the limits of acceptable actions” in civil law, said Heidi Li Feldman, Professor of law center of Georgetown University, specializing in civil matters.
“The problem is the lack of available legal structures which can be mobilized to compensate families or prosecution under criminal law,” she says.
Ukraine sued Russia in the international Court of justice in the Hague to bring an end to the Russia’s support of rebels in its Eastern region, and to establish the fact of state discrimination in the Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in early 2014.
In this lawsuit, the country is demanding compensation from Russia for her alleged role in the MH17 crash, which Ukraine called a “crime against humanity”.
In April, the court refused to call Russia a sponsor of terrorism, but granted the petition of Ukraine on the termination by Russia of racial discrimination against ethnic peoples in the Crimea. The resolution did not mention the plane crash.
Meanwhile, a lawyer from Ohio named Jerry Skinner filed a lawsuit on civil rights in the European court of human rights on behalf of the 31 families who lost loved ones in the disaster. In the complaint, padanna last summer in France, the plaintiffs referred to Russia and President Vladimir Putin, guilty, and demand $ 10 million compensation for each victim.
The court deals with issues of compliance with the European Convention on human rights. It controls the Council of Europe, member of which is Russia. “Given the rigidity of our opponent and his apparent unwillingness to cooperate for a fair result each of us will have to study all aspects of the case to come to a definite result,” said Skinner, a lawyer from Cincinnati, who also participated in litigation related to the Lockerbie case. In that incident were killed all 259 people aboard and 11 people on the ground. Scottish criminal Tribunal, meeting at the US military base in the Netherlands, it took 11 years to come to hearing.
On 17 July 2014 Malaysian plane flew over a conflict zone in Eastern Ukraine. By the time of the explosion, he held in the air three of the 12 hours of the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. He flew at a height of 10058 meters. It’s 300 metres above the level specified by the air traffic controllers over the region due to fighting between forces, supported by Ukraine and Russia. In previous months, Pro-Russian groups, who fought near Donetsk, was hit by several government military aircraft at lower altitudes.
The investigator was satellite and other images, as well as data from social networks and phones collected by government intelligence agencies. After more than two years after the crash, in September 2016, Dutch investigators concluded that the plane was shot down by a Russian missile system “Buk” fired from the territory of the rebels in the East of Ukraine.
According to them, this system was shipped from Russia. It was moved several times. Russia denies that it engaged in any violation. According to its own investigation, the missile was fired from Ukrainian territory controlled by the Ukrainian government. She also suggested that a commercial flight could shoot down the Ukrainian fighter jets.
The investigation team publishes an online magazine to inform the families of the updated information on the progress of the investigation. “Unfortunately, we will have to continue to test your patience, wrote the team in may. — We understand that it is hard for you. We assure you that we remain committed to the successful conclusion of this important investigation.”
“Pressure from the public must go on, because that’s what this blatant impunity is eventually allowed to move to the Lockerbie case, said Beth van Shaak, Professor at Stanford law school and a former employee of the state Department. — People continued to fight and eventually was able to make progress in this matter.” Justice in the case of the crash, she said, “it’s ten, not two-year process.”
According to Feldman, a Professor at Georgetown, the identification of people who are directly involved in the incident — for example, fighters in the field, who operated the missile system is likely to become the key to any successful legal action. Proceedings against unidentified accused, as a rule, are relatively useless in terms of collecting damages or of bringing someone to justice.
“From a practical point of view… promising action against an indefinite group of people,” said Feldman. Therefore, the investigators also called for any witnesses to contact them.
The government, which insists on the prosecution, I want to get a list of “four or five” defendants, said Skinner, a lawyer from Ohio, again suggesting that Russia may consider the possibility of negotiations and “donate” some alleged offenders, if she will be able to achieve concessions on the issue of economic sanctions.
However, if any of the named defendants would be Russian, it is unlikely that they will appear in a Dutch court, given the fact that the Russian Constitution prohibits the extradition of its citizens for trial abroad.
However, even the trial in the absence of specific defendants to some extent serve the cause of justice for the victims and their families, said Schouten, Chairman of the Foundation of MH17. He who lives in Papendrecht near Rotterdam. “We want to provide the court with a full picture and to make it right. We want to name names, to tell what happened, who did it, what the chain of command was responsible for the strategy, how it happened, he said. — Of course, I would like to bring them to the Netherlands and impose a sentence of imprisonment or other punishment imposed by a Dutch court. But quickly it will happen.” He notes that the conviction in absentia has its advantages. “Their ability to move will be very limited, they will not be able to go anywhere — it will be issued an international warrant for their arrest.”
Given the players involved in the process, it can be concluded that to decide the fate of the MH17 investigation will be able to geopolitics, not the court. Skinner noted the role that the easing of sanctions has played in persuading Libya to surrender suspects in the Lockerbie case. The United States and European Union have imposed sanctions against Russia for its annexation of Crimea, and Moscow would very much like to get rid of these restrictions. “We don’t know whether it was possible for the Dutch to convince the Russians to extradite people for trial,” said Skinner, noting that in absentia proceedings has political value — it is a disgrace to the accused and his alleged accomplices, as well as soothes the family of the victims. It allows investigators “to demonstrate the evidence around the world, and this is what most likely to want the families of the victims”.
“This is an opportunity to arrange a trial, though not as desirable, as the proceedings involving the accused,” said Stephen RAPP, the U.S. representative to the Global Criminal Justice under the Obama administration. He led the team for the prosecution at the tribunals that followed the genocide in Rwanda. “Consider whether people is justice? Yes, I’m sure,” he says.
The trial will soon join as plaintiffs another 15-20 people from England, Germany, the Netherlands and Scotland, Skinner said Wednesday in a telephone interview. He also filed separate lawsuits against airlines Malaysia Airline System Kuala Lumpur, Australia and New Zealand. Representatives of the media, the airline did not immediately respond to a request for comment via e-mail.
Skinner added that preparing an “open letter to Vladimir Putin,” which will publish in Newspapers of Ukraine and several other countries next week. In it, he will offer ways of achieving justice in this case.
Four days later, after MH17 was shot down, the UN Security Council unanimously backed a resolution which urged the participants “to bear responsibility, and all countries fully support the efforts to identify those responsible.” Perhaps anticipating a lengthy process, the security Council also stated its intention “to continue to address this issue.”