Putin sued by victims of MH17, shot down over Russian-occupied Ukraine

Malaysian airliner shot down in Russian-held rebel territory in 2014, killing 298 people

Putin sued by victims of MH17, shot down over Russian-occupied Ukraine

Pavel Golovkin, PA

Vladimir Putin and the Russian state are being sued by families of those who died on Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 when it was shot down over Russian-occupied Ukraine.

Australian law firm LHD Lawyers co-associate Jerry Skinner, who also represented the Lockerbie bombing families, has filed a compensation claim in the European Court of Human Rights.

The legal action seeks €13m ($10m) in compensation per passenger, Australian media reported.

The suit, filed on 9 May, names the Russian Federation and Mr Putin as respondents.

MH17 came down in Russian-held rebel territory in eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014, killing all 298 people on board, including 28 Australians.

It was en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam at the time.

Fairfax media reported that 33 next of kin of victims from Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia are being represented by the firm.

The Dutch Safety Board concluded in its final report late last year that the aircraft was shot down by a Russian-made missile.

The board pieced together the wreckage of the plane and determined that it must have been hit by a Buk surface-to-air weapon, which is only made by state-controlled Russian firm Almaz-Antey.

The board was not empowered to address questions of responsibility, so did not point the finger at any group or party for launching the missile.

Fighting was raging in eastern Ukraine between Russian forces, their separatist proxies and Ukrainian government forces.

A Russian-armed rebel fighter jealously guards the wreckage from flight MH17

Many Western experts and governments blamed the rebels but Russia disputed the Dutch board's findings, which it had repeatedly obstructed.

Kremlin officials said if the plane was downed by a missile, it must have been launched by Ukrainian government forces.

It claimed Moscow no longer uses the model of Buk which was said to have hit the plane, although Russia has been known to give obsolete arms to their various paramilitary clients.

An Australian coroner ruled that six Australians who died in the MH17 plane crash were victims of a "gross mass murder".

Mr Skinner said the suit they filed was more than 3,500 pages in length.

"We're all sitting with our fingers crossed - there are some legal determinations they will have to make," he said.

"We didn’t go to Russia and file a 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."