THE HAGUE - Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called Friday for the creation of an international tribunal to try those responsible for downing a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine last year.
"A UN tribunal is the best option for prosecuting those responsible for the MH17 disaster, as it is the best chance to get them before a court of law," Rutte, whose country had the most nationals among the 298 victims, told a weekly press conference.
Malaysia Thursday told the UN Security Council it planned to file a draft resolution on a UN tribunal to try those who downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
Russia has balked, with Deputy Foreign Minister Gennadiy Gatilov lashing the proposal as "not timely, and counterproductive."
After the tragedy suspicions immediately turned to pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine, accused of using a surface-to-air missile supplied by Russia.
Russia denies the allegation and points the finger at Kiev.
Spurred by a global outcry, the Security Council last year adopted a resolution demanding the perpetrators be brought to justice.
Malaysia is working with Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands and Ukraine - all member countries of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) - on setting up the international tribunal.
"Based on all insights, information and advice we say this is by far the most-preferred route. We do have a back-up plan, but a UN tribunal is our best option," said Rutte, who for the first time officially stated the Dutch government's position.
Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders told the NOS national broadcaster a UN court would give "greater legitimacy and better chances of prosecution." "But there are no guarantees and its not the only option," Koenders said.
The resolution would be drafted under chapter 7 of the UN charter, which means that the tribunal's efforts to reach prosecution could be enforced by sanctions.
Gatilov had said the investigation into the downing be completed before any further steps are taken.
The Boeing 777 jet was en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam when it was shot down during fierce fighting between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists.