17:37 GMT21 September 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Relatives of those killed in the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 downing over eastern Ukraine in 2014 will file lawsuits with the Dutch court by February 2021, their lawyer said at a court hearing on Monday.

    Earlier in the day, a new set of hearings over MH17 crash started in the District Court of The Hague.

    "We expect that it will take us approximately four months to prepare the lawsuits. But this is not precise either, since a lot will depend on the sides that will explain the Ukrainian legislation to us ... This means that by February 2021 we will be able to bring these lawsuits with the court," the lawyer said.

    According to the lawyer, the relatives' defence team insists on filing these lawsuits as part of the criminal case related to the plane crash rather than as a separate civil process.

    "It is important that these lawsuits are considered within this case. First, it is important from the non-material point of view - it is necessary to take into account the pain and suffering of the relatives. It is important to make sure that crime and compensation are dealt with in the same criminal process. In addition, in criminal proceedings, unlike civil proceedings, there is a measure of an immediate decision on payment of compensation and advance payment. This is what we cannot achieve within the civil litigation," the lawyer added.

    MH17 was shot down on July 17, 2014, in eastern Ukraine on its way to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam. All 298 people aboard died.

    The trial of four suspects — Russian nationals Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinsky and Oleg Pulatov, and Ukrainian national Leonid Kharchenko — began in March in the Netherlands.

    © Sputnik / Alexey Vitvitsky
    MH17 trial

    The Joint Investigative Team (JIT), which is looking into the case, believes that the Boeing was shot down from with a weapon belonging to a Russian military unit. JIT, headed by the Dutch prosecutors, does not include Russian representatives.

    Russia has said that it gave the Netherlands radar data and documents proving that the missile that hit the plane belonged to Ukraine and was launched from the territory controlled by Kiev. However, this information was not taken into account. The Russian Foreign Ministry has called the JIT accusations against Russia one-sided and regrettable.

    Tags:
    Ukraine, Russia, lawsuit, Hague Court, MH17, MH17 crash
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