MH17 families to sue Dutch state for damages

Move follows revelations about passenger wearing oxygen mask

The many relatives of Dutch victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17, downed over Ukraine in July, say they will hold the government of the Netherlands liable for damages for its handling of the tragic event, a lawyer representing the families says.

There were 196 Dutch nationals among the 298 passengers and crew on the ill-fated Boeing 777. Lawyer Bob van der Goen said a letter was sent to the country’s government on Friday stating that the relatives would seek unspecified damages, a step taken before a lawsuit is filed with a judge.

The Dutch government had until recently been praised for its response to the crash.

But on Wednesday, Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans revealed through the media that a passenger’s body being found wearing an oxygen mask. The following day he apologised for presenting the new information via the media before relatives had been informed officially.

“The MH17 disaster goes straight to my heart,” Timmermans said. “I feel deeply for the families. The last thing I want to do is to increase their suffering. I shouldn’t have said it. The information was not shared more widely because no conclusion can be drawn and more investigation is required.”

For relatives this was “the last straw”, Van der Goen said.

He said the minister’s comments – inferring that victims had been alive longer than previously thought – were “idiotic”. He added: “We will hold the Dutch government liable. They are negligent because of the slowness of the case and the failure to get to the crash site, which should have been possible.”

Reuters

[pictured: Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200]

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