: AFP: MH17 families steel for legal fight on second anniversary

11:08 Jul. 14, 2016

AFP: MH17 families steel for legal fight on second anniversary

Mikhail Malyshevsky, an adviser to the director general of the state-controlled Almaz-Antei consortium, speaks during a news conference in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015. (AP Images)

Criminal investigation's findings could open the way for further lawsuits in future

The families of the 298 people who died when flight MH17 was downed over Ukraine are steeling themselves for a slew of bitter legal battles, on the eve of the tragedy's second anniversary.

Sunday marks the deadline for relatives to launch action against Malaysia Airlines, which operated the passenger jet that was shot down with a surface-air-missile over war-torn eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014.

Read also RFE/RL: Russia shared data on MH17 crash with visiting Dutch investigators

The Boeing 777 was on a routine flight between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur when it was hit by a Russian-made BUK missile, fired from territory held by pro-Russian separatists locked in a fierce conflict with Kiev.

Dozens of Dutch relatives are close to filing a lawsuit by the weekend if negotiations fail to secure compensation for "psychological trauma", news reports said.

A 1999 convention allows bereaved families to launch claims against airlines for up to two years, but "psychological trauma" does not qualify.

Malaysia Airlines "will also be reluctant to set a precedent" if it pays damages for psychological trauma, added Pablo Mendes de Leon, an air and space law professor at Leiden University.

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