KUALA LUMPUR, July 27 — British lawyers are getting ready to hit Russian President Vladimir Putin with a multi-million pound class action suit for his alleged role in the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH17 crash in eastern Ukraine this month, an English daily reported.
According to British daily The Sunday Telegraph, senior Russian military commanders and politicians closely-linked to Putin will likely be also included in the suit, set to take place in American courts.
“There has been talk of civil suits against Malaysia Airlines, but those immediately responsible are not only the separatists who are alleged to have fired the rocket at Flight MH17, causing the death of hundreds of innocent victims, but those, be they states, individuals or other entities, who provided them with financial and material support and the means to do so.
“Our team is presently liaising and working with partners in Ukraine and the US on whether, apart from civil suits against the airline, legal action can be brought against the perpetrators on the victims’ behalf,” said a spokesman for London-based law firm McCue and Partners.
The Telegraph revealed that the firm’s lawyers flew to Ukraine last week to discuss the details and location to file the suit.
The victims’ next-of-kin will also be invited to join in on the suit, which will highlight Russia’s alleged role in “stoking conflict” in eastern Ukraine, it said.
The report also said that the burden of proof in the civil case would be lower than in a criminal investigation, ensuring that Putin and other senior Kremlin politicians will be held responsible even if they were to be left scot-free in the official inquiry.
It also said that the case could be worth at least hundreds of millions of pounds (or ringgit), and Putin and his allies will see their assets frozen should they refuse compensation.
Previously, the firm sued the late former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi for sponsoring Irish terrorists in Northern Ireland and the British mainland.
This comes as Britain accused Russia today of making false claims about the MH17 crash and said it was “highly likely” it was brought down by a Russian-supplied missile fired from a Russian-backed separatist area.
The Foreign Office said in a statement that Russia had issued a succession of contradictory claims and denials about the crash, which killed all 298 people on board, including 10 Britons.
Britain was also aware of information that suggested separatists had been planning to scatter parts of other aircraft on the site to hinder investigators, it said.
The statement came after Russia’s ambassador to Britain, Alexander Yakovenko, said on Thursday that allegations Russia was involved in the downing crash “didn’t hold water”.
The Boeing 777-200ER, which was on a scheduled flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over strife-torn Eastern Ukraine on 17 July. There were no survivors.