Families settle with Malaysian Airlines over MH17 downing

TWELVE Australian families whose relatives died when Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot out of the sky have reached a confidential settlement with the airline. 

The class action headed by Cassandra Gibson, whose mother Liliane Derden had been flying from Amsterdam to Perth to see her daughter, ended in an out-of-court settlement in Sydney ahead of a Federal Court trial.

The class action headed by Cassandra Gibson whose mother died in the tragedy.
The class action headed by Cassandra Gibson whose mother died in the tragedy.

It is believed to be among the last of the claims by families of the 283 passengers on board MH17 in courts around the world under the so-called Montreal Convention which makes an airline liable for the death of a passenger.

Earlier this month, investigators named four suspects they will charge with murder over the downing of the Boeing 777-200 over territory in eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russia separatists when it was shot down by a BUK surface-to-air missile.

Among the 298 passengers and crew killed were 38 Australians.

The terms of the settlement were approved by Justice Nye Perram, who congratulated the parties on reaching an agreement ahead of the eight-day trial.

Justice Perram said in his judgment that there were "at most" 12 Australian members of the class action and "each of those group members has now settled" with the airline.

It comes ahead of next month's fifth anniversary of the downing of MH17 on July 17.

The Federal Court had previously been told that of the 283 passengers on board MH17 there had been 245 settlements, at least in principle, and of the remainder, approximately 26 involved connections with Australia.

Some families have gone into mediation with the Singapore-based law firm responsible for the worldwide management of the claims arising out of the disaster on behalf of the airline and its insurance underwriters.

Mother-of-two Ms Derden, 50, who lived in Canberra, had been to Belgium to visit her brothers and sisters and was on her way back to Perth to visit Ms Gibson and Ms Derden's new granddaughter.

Her other daughter, Chelsea, had returned home from Europe separately on another flight.

The murder charges followed an investigation by an international team found "convincing evidence" that MH17 was shot down by a Buk-TELAR missile from Russia.

Mother-of-two Liliane Derden was flying to Perth to visit her daughter.
Mother-of-two Liliane Derden was flying to Perth to visit her daughter.

Earlier this month investigators have named four suspects they will charge with murder over the downing of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which killed 298 people, including 38 Australians.

They named three Russians - Igor Girkin, Sergei Dubinsky and Oleg Poelatov - and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko, who are expected to be prosecuted by Dutch authorities in March next year.

The chief prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said all four were responsible for bringing the BUK-M1 missile launcher into a field in Pervomaisky, eastern Ukraine, which fired the missile.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has vehemently denied any involvement.