“Some think MH17 must have been a terrible, inevitable mistake of war. I do not think that is the truth. The facts scream intent and motive. It was a calculated military strike as willful as the killing of one more political opponent. You stand as the only man who can set this right.”
Letter to President Putin — Jerome Skinner
US attorney representing victims of flight MH17 from Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and the Netherlands
The U.S. aviation lawyer who won compensation for victims of the 1988 Lockerbie aircraft bombing and is now seeking $330 million from Russia for the downing of Malaysian Airlines MH17 in 2014, says Russian President Vladimir Putin must be held responsible. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY
UPDATE — Last week — July 12 2017 — Jerome Skinner wrote an open letter to President Vladimir Putin.
Open Letter to Mr Putin
My clients have waited three years, Mr Putin. There is still no accountability.
Your government has provided no explanation for the missile parts and wiring among the wreckage, no explanation for the missile series or warhead numbers, no explanation for the shrapnel pattern, shape, distribution or recovery of bow tie-shaped shrapnel from the flight crews’ shattered bodies.
Why did you locate your missile launcher in the centre of the L980 transcontinental commercial air corridor unless you were hunting an airliner? It was nowhere close to the Ukrainian air power around Donetsk.
Do you not feel that such tragic loss deserves explanation? You felt and expressed this type of loss when your Metro Jet was bombed. Do you really think that you have no responsibility to the families of the 80 children on board? What about all the others? Were they your enemy? None of them spoke Russian, none of them spoke Ukrainian. None will ever speak again. Murder demands justice.
Evil is as real as the pain of growing old. We feel its effects every day when we arise. In the night it brings a bitter twinge to the sweetest of rests. It is the uneasiness felt after a disturbing dream. It never dies. It is alive in our time.
Evil lives among my children and yours. Evil hunts down the ignorant and extinguishes the innocent daily somewhere in this world.
On July 17, 2014 it shattered 298 souls over Ukraine. Eighty of those souls were innocent children. Did you see the dolls, colouring books and toys among the blood and carnage? Did you see the photo of the hardened rebel fighter holding the soiled teddy bear like a prize from a carnival? Did you feel the presence of evil when you saw these things? I did.
My grandfather fought evil from a trench in the mud of France, half a world away and 100 years ago. My uncle fought evil which called itself the rising sun. It rose up and killed him.
My father fought evil across Europe and found evil itself at a sub-camp of Dachau near Bad Tolz in May 1945. He lost his battle and his war when he returned home to a bottle of whiskey and evil memories which he could no longer stand. Finally in July 1969 he succumbed. My brother faced evil many times in 23 years in the US Navy. I am sure you have seen evil too.
You are the head of a great nation with a powerful army that wants its empire back. I’m a lawyer from rural Ohio. I have no army, but I have nearly irrefutable evidence.
Some think MH17 must have been a terrible, inevitable mistake of war. I do not think that is the truth. The facts scream intent and motive. It was a calculated military strike as willful as the killing of one more political opponent. You stand as the only man who can set this right.
The slaughter of 298 innocents, including 80 children, will be a stain on the Russian Federation for eternity. I will stand and call out this evil before great power, because that it is my duty to seek justice. I stand against your nation for all the nations whose families suffered. But, particularly on behalf of the Malaysian, Australian, New Zealander and Dutch families that I represent.
I will use the European Court of Human Rights and every other avenue available to bring the Kremlin to accountability. My grandfather, my father, my uncle and my brother would approve. Mr Putin, evil can atone. Your Christian faith should teach you that forgiveness must be sought by the words and deeds of the wrongful actor. The violator can be forgiven, even for death.
I am a believer in Christ. I try to think, act and interact with others with a Christ consciousness. You are big Mr Putin, I am small, but God remains bigger than us all. He will be the ultimate arbiter. Still, you and Russia have a responsibility to reach out and take action in this life.
Meet me and finally make amends for the victims of this tragedy. You may communicate with me through your embassy contacting the US Department of State.
Jerome Skinner is an attorney representing victims of flight MH17 from Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and the Netherlands.
END of UPDATE
Jerry Skinner, who is leading Australian law firm LHD’s compensation claim against Russia and Putin in the European Court of Human Rights, says he is confident of success but admits the case, like that of Lockerbie, may take years.
The Malaysian Airlines’ Boeing 777 crashed in eastern Ukraine in pro-Russian rebel-held territory on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 people on board, including 28 Australians.
In 1988, a terrorist bomb exploded aboard Pan Am Flight 103, sending flaming chunks of the plane hurtling down onto the town of Lockerbie, Scotland. Two hundred and seventy people died, including those hit by the wreckage.
Two Libyan intelligence officers were believed to be behind the bombing. So when American relatives of the victims came to Mr Skinner’s office, he filed an international claim against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya. In the end, the Libyan response was quite different to the Russian one.
“The Libyan security services immediately asked for a sit-down meeting to talk about the case.
They had some urgent economic needs that could only be met with [US-imposed economic] sanctions dropped.
They approached us from the very beginning as ‘we will pay your people, but you have to help us with the politics’.”
The negotiations lasted two and a half years before Libya paid £1.69 billion to the families Mr Skinner represented. He is not optimistic about a similarly swift resolution with Russia.
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About Flight MH17
What happened? On Thursday 17 July, 2014, a Boeing 777 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpa broke up in mid-air over separatist-held territory in east Ukraine. All 298 passengers and crew were killed.
Where? The debris and victims were scattered over a vast crash site between the villages of Grabovo, Rosypnoye, and Petropavlivka in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine. The area is controlled by the Donetsk People’s Republic, a Russian-backed separatist movement.
Who was on board? 283 passengers and 15 crew members from the Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia, Indonesia, Britain, Germany, Belgium, the Philippines, New Zealand, and Canada.
Why did it crash? MH17 was almost certainly shot down by a type of surface to air missile that scatters a cloud of shrapnel towards its target. The Dutch report of 13 October 2015 pointed the finger at a Russian-built BUK missile.
Who did it? Multiple independent investigations suggest MH17 was shot down by Russian-backed separatists who thought they were shooting at a Ukrainian military aircraft.
MH17 Documentary (Dutch Safety Board’s investigation)
Video about the Dutch Safety Board’s investigation into the causes of the crash of flight MH17 on 17 July 2014 in the eastern part of Ukraine and the Board’s investigation into flying over conflict zones. The video was based on the Dutch Safety Board’s investigation reports, which were published on 13 October 2015.
Three years on – it’s time to make amends for MH17, Mr Putin — Sydney Morning Herald July 12 2017
US Lockerbie Lawyer: “Putin plays tougher than Gaddafi.”
One Year Ago — US Lockerbie & MH17 Lawyer: “President Vladimir Putin must be held responsible.”