By P Prem Kumar
KUALA LUMPUR (AA) – The families of six cabin crew on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 have filed a suit against the carrier for negligence and breach of contract over the downing of the plane in eastern Ukraine in July 2014.
Around 11 next-of-kin of the crew initiated the legal suit Thursday in the Kuala Lumpur High Court, seeking compensations.
The families named Malaysian Airline System Berhad (MAS) and Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB), the carrier’s new parent entity that replaced MAS under a restructuring program.
Lawyer T. Balan Nair, who is representing the families, told Anadolu Agency that the plaintiffs are claiming compensation from MAS and MAB for negligently dispatching and executing the flight over an area known to be under armed conflict that posed an “unreasonable” risk of harm and death to the victims.
"The plaintiffs are also of the opinion that both the companies had failed to have adequate risk assessment systems in place, to avoid flying above such a vulnerable area," he said by phone.
The families also allege that MAS and MAB were in breach of contract for failing to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of the flight crew.
They asserted that the defendants had failed to conduct adequate risk assessment training for personnel, flight crew and operational staff including preparation and finalization of route and flight plans.
The plaintiffs are also seeking general damages including loss of support and services, and for pain and suffering as well as traumatic psychiatric injury, nervous shock and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The six crew whose families filed the suit are in-flight supervisor Mohd Gafar Abu Bakar, leading flight stewardess Lee Hui Pin, flight stewardesses Chong Yee Pheng, Hamfazlin Sham Mohamed Arifin and Nur Shazana Mohamed Salleh and flight steward Sanjid Singh Sandhu Jijar Singh.
The Kuala Lumpur-bound flight MH17 from Amsterdam was shot down in the troubled Ukrainian state of Donetsk on July 17, 2014, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew on board.
Among the fatalities were 193 nationals of the Netherlands, 44 of Malaysia and 39 of Australia.
At the time of the incident, fierce fighting was taking place in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government troops. Russia has denied its troops were operating in Ukraine at the time.
Last year, the Dutch Safety Board concluded MH17 was hit by Russian-made Buk missile.
The Russian government has challenged the findings, with the makers of Buk missile systems, Almaz-Antey, saying that experiments proved that one of its missiles could not have been launched from areas under pro-Russia separatist control.