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Dutch government has spent €160 million dealing with the downing of MH17, report finds

Despite the Kremlin’s denials, overwhelming evidence puts the blame for the 2014 crash on a missile fired by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.


The Dutch government has spent more than €166 million dealing with the aftermath of the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014, according to an official report Thursday.

The massive expense reflects the Netherlands’ involvement in everything from repatriating victims’ bodies to investigating and prosecuting some of those involved in the disaster.

The Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down on 17 July 2014, using a Russian-made Buk missile fired from territory in eastern Ukraine controlled by separatist rebels.

The strike killed 298 passengers and crew, including 196 Dutch citizens.

A Dutch court convicted two Russians and a pro-Moscow Ukrainian in November 2022 of involvement in the incident and sentenced them to life imprisonment. However, they were tried in absentia, and have not been detained to serve their sentences.

The court ruled that the missile and its launcher were driven into Ukraine from a military base in Russia and the launcher returned to Russia afterward.

According to the Netherlands Court of Audit, which calculated costs through the end of 2022, repatriating and identifying the bodies of those killed cost more than €31 million, while international legal proceedings and diplomacy accounted for €5.7 million.

But the domestic trial and the massive international investigation that preceded it cost a total of more than €87 million, the audit found.

The total also does not include about €16.5 million that the Dutch government paid to next of kin last year as an advance on compensation that the court had ordered the three convicted men to pay.

“This compensation should ultimately be paid by the perpetrators, but it is open to question whether they will,” the report said.

The Dutch government asked the independent auditor to estimate the costs as it intends to seek compensation from Russia in a case the Netherlands and Australia filed at the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

Moscow denies any involvement in the MH17 disaster, and has spent the last decade circulating various debunked and mutually contradictory theories as to what happened.

The Dutch government also is supporting families who have brought a case against Russia at the European Court of Human Rights.

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