Dutch seek UN tribunal to prosecute downing of Malaysian plane

Rutte says a UN tribunal would give "the best guarantee of cooperation from all countries" in seeking justice


Reuters July 03, 2015
Members of a group of international experts inspect wreckage at the site where the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed, near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo) in Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine August 1, 2014. PHOTO: REUTERS

THE HAGUE: A day after Malaysia said it would push for a UN led probe into the downing of the MH17 over Ukraine a year ago, the Dutch government on Friday was lobbying its political allies for the establishment of a UN tribunal to prosecute suspects in the downing of  the Malaysian Airlines plane, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Friday.

Rutte said a UN tribunal would give "the best guarantee of cooperation from all countries" in seeking justice for the families of the 298 victims, most of whom were Dutch passengers aboard flight MH17.

Read: Search for remains of MH17, crash victims ends

Malaysia, one of five countries on a Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team probing the crash, told the United Nations Security Council on Thursday it plans to push for a UN-backed tribunal, even as Russia described the move as premature, diplomats said.

“No route is 100 per cent perfect, but this is the route that is by far the most preferred," Rutte said after a weekly meeting with his centre-right cabinet.

"We also have plan 'Bs' if this approach doesn't work, both national and international, but this is the route that would be the best. And that's why we are exploring that possibility first of all.”

Read: MH370 search finds uncharted shipwreck

Rutte's comments confirmed a report by Reuters last month that the Netherlands was seeking to establish such a tribunal.

He declined to comment on where the court might be located or how it important it would be for Russia, which has a veto on the UN Security Council, to cooperate.

Russia denies involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian rebels are fighting Ukrainian government forces. Moscow has suggested MH17 was downed by a Ukrainian fighter jet and denied a widely supported theory that the rebels shot it out of the sky with a Russian-supplied BUK missile.

The Netherlands is leading the criminal investigation, which is also assisted by Belgium, Australia and Ukraine. A final report on the cause of the crash is due to be released in October by the Dutch Safety Board.

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