Mother of German victim of Flight MH17 takes Ukraine to human rights court

The mother of a victim of downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 has begun legal proceedings against Ukraine at the European Court of Human Rights, accusing the country of failing to close its airspace, the German daily Bild reported Sunday.

The woman, who lodged her complaint at the Strasbourg-based court “last week,” is suing Ukraine for €800,000 (about $1 million) in damages for negligent homicide, Bild said.

The Boeing 777 exploded over insurgent-held east Ukraine on July 17, killing all 298 on board, 193 of whom were Dutch. Four were German, according to the airline.

Kyiv and the West have accused separatists of shooting the aircraft down with a surface-to-air missile supplied by Russia, a charge Moscow denies.

The plaintiff in the case claims that Ukraine should have closed its airspace to civilian flights as fighting raged in the east of the country, Bild reported. The woman argues that Ukraine chose not to do so because it did not want to lose out on overflight fees.

At the time, some 700 flights were thought to be crossing Ukrainian territory per day, bringing in several millions of dollars a month in revenue, Bild reported.

The woman is being defended by German lawyer Elmar Giemulla, a professor of aviation law. Giemulla announced in September he would represent three families of German victims of Flight MH17.

“By keeping its airspace open for transit by aircraft from other countries, the state must ensure the safety of the flights. If this is temporarily impossible, it means that it should close its airspace,” he said at the time.