Malaysia asks Security Council for MH17 tribunal

  • 09/07/2015
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak speaks. (Reuters)
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak speaks. (Reuters)

Malaysia has circulated a draft UN resolution on establishing an international tribunal that it says will guarantee an independent trial for those behind the downing of flight MH17.

Malaysia told the Security Council last week it was ready to move ahead with the proposed tribunal despite resistance from Russia, which has said the move is premature.

A 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.

All 298 passengers and crew on board the Malaysia Airlines flight - most of them Dutch - died when the plane was shot down on July 17 last year over eastern Ukraine.

After the tragedy, suspicions immediately turned to pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine who may have used a surface-to-air missile supplied by Russia to shoot down the plane.

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

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said an international tribunal is the "best option" for prosecution but that there is also a "back-up plan" should the Russians block the proposal.

Russian deputy foreign minister Gennadiy Gatilov has described the proposal as "not timely and counterproductive" and that the investigation of the shooting down of the airliner should be completed before any further steps are taken.

A final report on the Dutch-led investigation is expected in October.

Malaysia is working with Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands and Ukraine - all member countries of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) - on setting up the tribunal.