The lawyer acting for the families of those on-board the downed Malaysia Airline MH17 has described the compensation offer made by the airline as "almost offensive." Veeru Mewa claims that the airline's insurers were "taking advantage of Dutch law" to offer very little compensation.
According to Dutch law, if someone dies in an accident, you can only claim "compensation for the funeral costs." He added: "According to international standards that would mean a Dutch life is worth less than any other life."
Mewa told news agency AFP: "We are still negotiating the case. But the offers that Malaysia Airlines are making are almost offensive to our clients."
All 298 passengers and crew on the Boeing 777 were killed when it was hit by a Russian-made BUK anti-aircraft missile over Ukraine on 17 July 2014. A separate criminal investigation is being undertaken to discuss the legal options available to bring those responsible for downing the aircraft to justice.
His office, Beer Advocaten represents the families of 91 people killed in the disaster. He is also part of a core group of Dutch lawyers acting for the families of around 168 people who were on board the Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur flight.
Family members have, under the 1999 international accord — the Montreal Convention — have until 17 July, the second anniversary of the air disaster to file a lawsuit. The lawsuit if filed by the families, would seek damages for the loss of earnings as well as compensation for the psychological trauma of those who had lost their loved ones.
The legal team is also looking at the option of holding Malaysia Airlines "liable for flying over Ukraine" which was in the middle of a conflict with government forces fighting pro-Russian rebels, AFP said.
Mewa said many families are "struggling with traumatic bereavement, post-traumatic stress syndrome because of the images, seeing rebels walking on the gravesite, and not being able to go there, knowing that the Dutch government was not there to collect the bodies for quite a while."
He added that the families wanted "a just" settlement and that the offer so far on the table did not give them "satisfaction." He said that it has not been decided yet whether the suit would be filed in The Hague or in Malaysia. His clients include those from Switzerland, Indonesia and Australia.
Mewa also accused Malaysia Airlines of not keeping to its promise of taking care of the families of those killed. He said immediately after the crash, the airline had said it would take responsibility and take care of the families. "And the offers they are making is not suggesting that."