Relatives of MH17 victims file $900 million lawsuit against former rebel leader | News | DW | 16.07.2015
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Relatives of MH17 victims file $900 million lawsuit against former rebel leader

Victims' family members of the MH17 crash have filed a lawsuit totaling nearly $900 million against Igor Strelkov, former leader of the Ukrainian separatist movement. According to the court papers, Russia is complicit.

Family members of the victims who died in the MH17 Malaysian Airlines crash last year filed a nearly $900 million (826 million euros) lawsuit against Igor Strelkov, former rebel leader in the east Ukrainian conflict.

The lawsuit was filed by lawyer Floyd Wisner, an Aviation specialist, in a Chicago court. Wisner is representing relatives of at least 17 victims of the crash.

Strelkov, a Russian national also known as Igor Girkin, spearheaded the rebel side of operations in the eastern Ukrainian conflict until August 2014, after which he traveled to Russia where he currently resides.

Aided, abetted, conspired

"Flight 17 flew over the airspace of the area in which the aforesaid rebel army was waging its war activities and the rebel army under the command responsibility of defendant Girkin shot down the subject Boeing 777-200 aircraft," court papers stated.

"Defendant Girkin ordered, aided and/or abetted this action and/or conspired with those persons who fired the missile or missiles," the court papers noted.

Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 - from Kuala Lumpur to Amsterdam - crashed after traveling over eastern Ukrainian airspace, where more than 4,000 people have been killed throughout the conflict on the ground.

It is believed that the aircraft was hit by a surface-to-air missile. Both the Ukrainian and Russian government have accused each other of orchestrating the attack, which left all 298 passengers -mostly Dutch citizens - dead, although no suspects have arisen.

Rejecting investigations

However, Strelkov's wife Mirosalva, who acts at the former rebel leader's spokesperson, has decried the lawsuit.

"What does he have to do with this anyway," Miroslava told Russian radio, referring to her husband Strelkov.

The lawsuit comes on the heels of Malaysia's formal request to the UN to open an international tribunal to independently investigate the circumstances of the crash.

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Thursday that opening a tribunal into the crash was "premature" and "counterintuitive."

ls/jil (AFP, dpa)

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