Russia to oppose UN MH17 tribunal

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UNITED NATIONS, New York: Russia said Thursday it will oppose a draft UN resolution circulated by Malaysia on establishing an international tribunal to prosecute those behind the downing of Flight MH17 over Ukraine.

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Deputy UN Ambassador Petr Iliichev confirmed Moscow’s hostility to the plan, telling reporters: “It’s not a good time and it’s counterproductive.”

Asked whether Russia would push against the proposal, Iliichev responded “yes.”

A day earlier, Malaysia had circulated the draft Security Council resolution on setting up the tribunal and meetings were held with Russia and China to gauge the level of support.

All 298 passengers and crew on board the Malaysia Airlines flight — the majority of them Dutch — died when the plane was shot down on July 17, 2014 over eastern Ukraine.

Suspicions immediately turned to pro-Russian separatists who may have used a surface-to-air missile supplied by Russia to down the plane.

Russia has denied the claim and suggested that a Ukrainian missile may have hit it.

The draft resolution, obtained by AFP, calls for establishing the tribunal under Chapter 7 of the UN charter, which means that the court’s efforts to prosecute those responsible could be enforced by sanctions.

The tribunal would be “an effective guarantee for an independent and impartial accountability process,” the draft resolution said.

The council would “establish an international tribunal for the sole purpose of prosecuting persons responsible for crimes connected with the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on 17 July 2014,” the draft text said.

Under the draft, the council would also adopt the statute of the new tribunal modeled after other UN special courts tasked with prosecuting serious crimes.

AFP

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