Robert Ayley and Sharlene Ayley. Robert was killed when MH17 was shot out of the sky in the Ukraine.
Robert Ayley and Sharlene Ayley. Robert was killed when MH17 was shot out of the sky in the Ukraine. NZ Herald

Wife of MH17 victim among families suing Vladimir Putin

A BEREAVED Kiwi mum is suing Vladimir Putin over the death of her husband when flight MH17 was shot down from the sky over Ukraine in 2014.

Sharlene Ayley's husband Robert was among the 298 passengers and crew on the Malaysia Airlines plane, all of whom died in the July 17 atrocity.

Sydney law firm LHD Lawyers have filed a claim against the Russian Federation and its President, Vladimir Putin, in the European Court of Human Rights. They are seeking A$10 million ($10.67 million) on behalf of 33 next-of-kin of passengers who died in the attack.

The case is being led by United States aviation lawyer Jerry Skinner, who won payouts from Libya in relation to the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie.

Robert's family did not wish to discuss the case publicly, his father, John Ayley, of Tawa in Wellington, told the Herald today.

"We just want to let it play out and obviously we are still very very upset by all the events."

Robert's mother, Wendie, earlier told Fairfax Media that Sharlene was trying to put Robert's death behind her. The family were "holding up okay" and the couple's children, Seth, 6, and Taylor, 4, were "doing beautifully".

"They're growing up with the understanding that their dad died. We regularly celebrate his death and include him in birthdays and Christmas where [the] boys let helium balloons go for him."

Reports of airliner crashes brought back memories. "But life's for living and the little boys are just continuing to have a lot of love and laughter in their lives."

The Dutch Safety Board found MH17 had been hit by a Russian-made Buk missle, but the board's report did not say who fired it.

Mr Skinner told "The Russians don't have any facts for blaming Ukraine. We have facts, photographs, memorandums, tonnes of stuff."

The application to the European court ran to more than 3500 pages and the legal team were awaiting its approval to proceed.

"We didn't go to Russia and file suit in Moscow because it's absolute nonsense to think we could have a realistic chance of success [there]."

However, a Russian lawmaker quoted by Russia's TASS news agency dismissed the lawsuit's chances of success.

There was no evidence proving Russia's involvement in the Boeing 777 crash near Donetsk, said Frants Klintsevich, the first deputy chairman of Russia's Federation Council committee on defense and security.

"The lawsuit against our country is legally null and void and has no prospects," he said, noting that by "stirring up unnecessary passions, it hampers an unbiased probe into the circumstances surrounding the crash."

"I think we have all the grounds to assess the claim objectively, regardless of its authors' intentions, as an element of the ongoing psychological war against Russia."

Flight MH17 facts:
- Malaysia Airlines passenger plane shot down on July 17, 2014 over Ukraine
- All 298 passengers and crew killed
- The cause was a Russian-made Buk missile, a Dutch Safety Board report said
- It did not say who fired it
- An Australian law firm is suing Russia for A$10m ($10.67m) per passenger on behalf of 33 next-of-kin