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Australia welcomes decision to hear MH17 case

The federal government has welcomed a decision by the United Nations aviation agency to hear a case brought by Australia and the Netherlands against Russia for the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.

The two nations launched the action last year at the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

The plane was hit over rebel-held eastern Ukraine in 2014 by what international investigators and prosecutors say was a Russian-made surface-to-air missile, killing all 298 on board.

Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong and Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus on Saturday welcomed the ICAO Council's decision in Montreal to hear the case.

"This decision is an important step in our collective efforts to hold to account those responsible for this horrific act of violence which claimed the lives of 298 people, 38 of whom called Australia home," they said in a statement.

"We have maintained since May 2018 that the Russian Federation is responsible under international law for the downing of Flight MH17.

"We now look forward to presenting our legal arguments and evidence to the ICAO Council as we continue to seek to hold Russia to account."

Russia has denied any involvement in the incident.

In October, Russia failed to win enough votes at ICAO's triennial assembly to keep its council seat.

The Montreal-based ICAO lacks regulatory power but sets global aviation standards overwhelmingly adopted by its 193 member states.

with Reuters