LONDON: British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond called Friday for a UN-backed international tribunal to prosecute those responsible for the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine one year ago.
“Justice must be delivered for the 298 innocent people who lost their lives,” said Hammond, whose country is one of the permanent members of the UN Security Council.
“That requires an international tribunal, backed by a resolution binding all UN member states, to prosecute those responsible.
“Any attempt to undermine this process would deprive the victims of justice and cannot be tolerated.”
The Netherlands, whose citizens made up the majority of those killed in the July 17, 2014 disaster, is working with Malaysia, Australia, Belgium and Ukraine on setting up an international court to bring prosecutions.
A draft UN resolution, obtained by AFP, calls for establishing the tribunal under Chapter Seven of the UN charter, which means the court’s efforts to prosecute those responsible could be enforced by sanctions.
Ukraine and many in the West have accused pro-Russian separatists of shooting down the plane, saying they may have used a surface-to-air missile supplied by Russia.
Russia — which wields a UN veto — and the rebels deny any responsibility and have instead pointed the finger at Ukraine’s military.
Putin said on Thursday that all investigations into the disaster should be completed before any decision can be taken on how to try the culprits.
In his statement, Hammond suggested prosecutions could be seen after a Dutch investigation is completed before the end of 2015.
“Later this year, the Dutch Safety Board will publish its definitive technical report, after which we expect further progress with the criminal investigation, which seeks to identify who was responsible,” he said.
“The highly professional team of investigators have been sifting through vast quantities of evidence, gathered painstakingly in the face of frequent obstruction and delays.”