Malaysia: Bring those responsible for MH17's downing to justice

Dancers perform during a memorials ceremony for those killed when flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine exactly a year ago in Nieuwegein, near the central city of Utrecht, on July 17, 2015, as calls mounted for a UN-backed tribunal to prosecute those responsible for the tragedy.

PETALING JAYA - Malaysia believes an independent international tribunal for MH17 is the best way to hold those responsible for the tragedy accountable.

Wisma Putra, in a statement, said the setting up of a tribunal by the United Nations Security Council prior to the completion of the criminal investigation would ensure it was depoliticised.

"Establishment of the tribunal at this stage is also consistent with the Security Council's own practice. All other ad hoc criminal courts and tribunals were also established prior to the completion of investigations," it said.

The UN secretary-general would appoint the judges, prosecutor and registrar. The prosecutor would be entirely independent and would have the power to conduct additional investigations.

Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine, the countries in the Joint Investigating Team (JIT), are consulting with all members of the Security Council to seek their support for the tribunal.

Consistent with standard practice, and to ensure future prosecutions are not jeopardised, the criminal investigation will be confidential: it will not result in the publication of a report that will be available to anyone other than the prosecuting authority.

On Monday, The Star reported that Malaysia, which is a member of JIT and non-permanent member of the Security Council, was pushing hard for resolution to set up the tribunal.

Russian, a permanent member of the Security Council, strongly opposes the move and may veto it.

Wisma Putra said it is important for the Security Council to take clear and decisive action against those responsible for the downing of MH17.

Wisma Putra pointed out that the Security Council had adopted Resolution 2166, which called for an independent investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, 12 months ago, on July 21, 2014.

"The Security Council unanimously demanded accountability. One year on, the time is right for the council to put this demand into action. Justice delayed is justice denied," Wisma Putra said in the statement.

Apart from JIT, a separate air safety investigation has been conducted in full compliance with all International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) guidelines and Annex 13 of the Chicago Convention.

The UN had expressed confidence the investigation is being carried out in line with international standards.

On July 17, 2015, the one year anniversary of the downing of MH17, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the progress made by the independent international investigation in accordance with Security Council Resolution 2166.

The objective of the air safety investigation is to determine the cause of the MH17 incident. It is not intended to identify whether any crimes have been committed or to identify those responsible.