MH17 investigation team in Malaysia to discuss legal options

An armed pro-Russian separatist stands on part of the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane after it crashed near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, July 17, 2014.
PHOTO: Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR - A joint team investigating the downing of a Malaysia Airlines flight over Ukraine in 2014 is in Malaysia to discuss options with authorities to set up a tribunal to hold those responsible to account, the Malaysian transport minister said on Thursday.

Flight MH17 was shot down by a Russian-made surface-to-air missile over eastern Ukraine in July 2014, killing all 298 on board, the Dutch Safety Board said in October.

Malaysia, the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium and Ukraine have been exploring alternative options, including trials in international and national courts, after Russia vetoed a United Nations bid last July to form a tribunal.

"The attorney-general in Malaysia and legal authorities in other countries are trying to find the best way to take this to court," transport minister Liow Tiong Lai told reporters.

Liow later told Reuters that the team had still not identified who to charge or what those charges might be.

"We are operating on an assumption that there is a perpetrator that can be charged but by the time they are identified, we need to have a suitable avenue for a trial," Liow said.

He said a criminal investigation was continuing.