Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 Shootdown Over Eastern Ukraine
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was scheduled to fly from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014, and was shot down while flying over eastern Ukraine. The aircraft was a Boeing 777-200ER and was Malaysia Airlines’ second loss in 2014. The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 occurred earlier in the year. The aircraft was shot down during the Battle in Shakhtarsk Raion in an area controlled by pro-Russian rebels. Following final contact with the aircraft, rebel militia in Donetsk claimed to have shot down a Ukrainian military transport airplane.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 Shot Down
This is a terrible tragedy and our heartfelt condolences go out to the families of all passengers and crew who were killed. The intentional downing of a civilian aircraft should never happen. It is morally unacceptable and inexcusable.
At this time it is most important for reliable and independent investigators and rescue/recovery teams to:
- Protect and identify the victims’ remains and assist in returning them to their families
- Secure and protect the crash scene and evidence
- Conduct a comprehensive, competent and independent investigation to determine exactly what happened and identify all responsible parties and wrongdoers
Under international law, Ukraine is responsible for conducting the investigation, but the crash site is in an area controlled by pro-Russian separatists. It is imperative that Russia support efforts to secure the crash site and to permit a full and fair investigation. If, as it appears, and if confirmed, Flight MH17 was shot-down intentionally, the international community must determine who is responsible and bring them to justice.
Liability of Malaysia Airlines Under the Montreal Convention
The rights of the passenger victims and their families against Malaysia Airlines are defined by the Montreal Convention, an International Treaty that governs international air travel. The Convention defines both the rights of the passengers and the liability of the air carrier, Malaysia Airlines.
While there is a limitation of liability clause under the Montreal Convention that under some circumstances would limit Malaysia Airlines’ liability, it does not apply unless the airline proves the disaster was not due to its negligence or other wrongful act or omission, or if the airline proves the disaster was caused solely by the wrongful act of a third party.
Kreindler successfully prosecuted Montreal Convention claims against airlines in prior airplane shootdowns and terrorism attacks, including the KAL 007 shootdown by Russia, and the PanAm Lockerbie bombing.
Liability of Countries and Political Groups
In addition to claims against Malaysia Airlines, the horrific actions at issue may expose countries and political groups to liability. In those instances, legal and political pressure is key to holding nations accountable for their misdeeds.
Kreindler negotiated a $2.7 billion settlement from Libya in claims arising from the Lockerbie bombing and is currently in litigation with the sponsors of Al Qaeda, including Saudi Arabia in the 9/11 litigation.
In the Media
Kreindler Partners comment in the media regarding Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
- CNN (7/23/2014): Will victims’ families ever get justice?
- Associated Press (7/22/2014): Lax security at crash site hampers investigations
- Fox News (7/18/2014): Investigation focuses on flight path over disputed airspace
- NBC News (7/18/2014): The Downing of Malaysia Air 17: Liability Lawyers are Standing By
- USA Today (7/18/2014): Jet crash investigators need to scrutinize wreckage
- Reuters (7/18/2014): Investigators face tough task in Ukraine plane inquiry
- ABC News (7/17/2014): Flights avoiding air space in Ukrainian-Russian war zone after Malaysia plane crash
Thumbnail photo of MH17 source: Alan Wilson