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Russia Denounces UN Tribunal for MH17 Suspects

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov blasted a call by five countries to form a United Nations tribunal to prosecute those who shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in Ukraine last July. “We are against it,” he claimed. “We think it is not timely and counterproductive.”

Australia, Malaysia, Ukraine, the Netherlands, and Belgium are in charge of the investigation. On July 17, 2014, the plane was shot down, which killed all 298 people on board, including 193 Dutch, 43 Malaysians, and 27 Australians. Intelligence from America and Germany say the pro-Russians in east Ukraine shot down the plane with a Buk surface-to-air-missile.

“A UN tribunal is the best option,” said one Dutch senior official. “We expect that it will provide the greatest chance of cooperation from all countries involved.”

Dutch investigators do believe a Russian Buk system shot down the plane. They also think Russians moved the system to Ukraine “shortly before the incident.” Investigators hope to list their suspects by the end of 2015, but sources in the Netherlands believe “the chance of a successful prosecution is considered slim at best.” From Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty:

A trial in Ukraine itself appears a nonstarter, since the pro-Russian rebels are as unlikely to attend as the Russian government, which influences them but strenuously denies involvement in the incident or the rebellion.

The hope is that by pushing for a UN-backed court, countries representing the victims could pressure Russia into cooperating. The Kremlin recently declined to comment on the tribunal proposal.

The UN General Assembly formed the UN Dispute Tribunal on July 1, 2009. The group “hears and decides cases filed by or on behalf of current and former staff members appealing administrative decisions alleged to be in non-compliance with their terms of appointment or contract of employment.” A case only goes to the tribunal if a staff member believes it was not properly resolved.

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