MH17: US court awards 25 families US$20m each

 |Feb 2, 2018
A picture taken on July 20, 2014 shows a piece of the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in a field near the village of Grabove in the Donetsk region in Ukraine. Photo by AFP

PETALING JAYA: A court in the United States has awarded US$20 million (RM78.7 million) to each of the family member of 25 victims in the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 tragedy.

A Dutch television documentary reported earlier this week this was in respect of a suit filed against Igor Girkin, a leader of pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.

Free Malaysia Today reported that Floyd Wisner, the lawyer representing the family members, told Zembla that Girkin did not attend the case and could not be found at his given home address in Moscow, Russia.

The report added the chances of any money being paid to the surviving family members was practically nil.

“It was never about the amount of money. The large amount of money was really only to make an impression, bring this to the world stage. That’s the important thing.

“The aim was never really just to collect this kind of money from Girkin, it’s to try to get justice for these families,” Wisner was quoted as saying.

He added that the case was to hopefully shed some light on the tragedy and to hold Girkin responsible for it.

Although the families of the Dutch victims were happy with the verdict, they were aware of the futility of getting any of the damages awarded by the court.

“We assume that it can not be collected. You can’t pick a bald chicken. This is also more symbolic. They’re still getting away with it.

“If there is something we can think of to make the lives of those involved miserable, we will not ignore it”, Silene Fredriksz, mother of MH17 victim Bryce Fredriksz, said in the programme.

Piet Ploeg, the chairman of foundation Vliegramp MH17, said it was important to keep the issue of the shooting down of MH17 “at the top of the agenda”.

“The opinions on this case are rather divided. The question is whether this ruling will have any effect. As the foundation, we take no position on court cases.

“It is the choice of the relatives which ones they will join. Because it is also very important to keep attention on what happened. And it is important to keep the topic on the map.”

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Donetsk in eastern Ukraine en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 passengers and crew members on board.

Authorities concluded the plane was shot down by a Russian-made ground-to-air BUK missile. Moscow however denied that any of its rockets could have been used.

Last December, a Ukrainian court ordered the arrest of a Russian army veteran suspected of involvement in the downing of the Boeing 777 aircraft.

The Kyiv Post said Sergey Dubinsky was suspected of arranging the movement of the BUK missile launcher into Ukraine.

His voice was also allegedly heard in phone calls intercepted by the Security Service of Ukraine, telling Russian-led soldiers where to take the BUK.