Malaysia wants Flight MH17 suspects to be prosecuted

Malaysia has said that it wants to set up an international tribunal to prosecute those suspected of having shot down Flight MH17.

Ukrainian rescue workers walk past a piece of wreckage of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 after it was shot down last July. Picture: Getty
Ukrainian rescue workers walk past a piece of wreckage of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 after it was shot down last July. Picture: Getty

The Malaysia Airlines passenger plane crashed in July 2014, with the loss of all 298 people on board.

It had been flying over territory held by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine when it was hit.

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Separatist leaders have denied accusations they used an anti-aircraft missile to shoot down the plane.

New Zealand’s UN ambassador Gerard van Bohemen, president of the UN Security Council for July, said yesterday that Malaysia had “briefed the council members this morning of their intention to present a resolution in relation to MH17”.

“They are seeking to find a mechanism to deal with criminal accountability in relation to the downing of the aircraft.”

He added that the move was a joint proposal by Malaysia, Australia, the Netherlands, Belgium and Ukraine.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov has called the plan “not timely and counterproductive,” according to reports.

However, unnamed diplomats said that Russia had described the proposal as premature. They added that Russia believed that the council should wait for the results of the ongoing investigations.

Most of the passengers on the flight were Dutch, but there were also Malaysians, Australians and Britons on board, among others.

The Netherlands is currently leading a multinational investigation but Russian investigators have also been looking into the crash.

Russia has denied accusations that it supplied the rebels in Ukraine with an anti-aircraft missile that was used to shoot down the plane.

The country has claimed that it was Ukrainian forces, not the rebels, that brought down Flight MH17.

A preliminary Dutch report said the plane broke up after being penetrated by “high-velocity objects”.

Meanwhile yesterday it also emerged that amid rising frustrations over the expensive, so-far fruitless search for vanished Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, experts are questioning the competence of the company in charge, including whether crews may have passed over the sunken wreckage without even noticing.

There are calls for the government to release the growing mountain of sonar data collected so far, which sceptics say could show whether searchers have overlooked holes in the dragnet big enough to conceal a fragmented Boeing 777.

Australian authorities say they are confident in the efforts by the company leading the search, Fugro Survey. But the second-guessing has grown as time goes by with still no physical trace of the plane.

“It strikes me as odd that you’re hiring a company that doesn’t have the assets, doesn’t have the track record,” said Steven Saint Amour, an aircraft recovery expert based in Annapolis, Maryland.