Australia is seeking a Lockerbie-style tribunal to prosecute those responsible for shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Sunday. She added that the names of the suspects might be confirmed by the end of the year
Bishop's comments come just days after international investigator revealed that the passenger plane was downed by a BUK missile originating from territory belonging to pro-Russian rebels. In July 2014, the Boeing 777 broke apart midair while flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. All 298 people on board, including 38 Australians, were killed.
“There can be a Lockerbie-style prosecution, a tribunal that’s set up by the international community, or there can be domestic prosecutions in, say, the Netherlands,” Bishop said in an interview with Australian state broadcaster ABC. “As long as they had the powers of extradition and the like, a prosecution could be mounted successfully in a domestic jurisdiction, but that would cover the interests of the 298 victims aboard that flight.”
Dutch authorities have reportedly discussed the prospect of an international tribunal, similar to the one set up after the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, when Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up while flying over Scotland. The lengthy trial for two Libyans charged over the disaster found them guilty, convicting them in 2001.
Bishop said Sunday that despite the investigation pointing at a Russian role in the disaster, a final report will confirm if Moscow was responsible for the attack.
“I think from the outset the Australian government has been of the view that Russia has questions to answer,” she said. “This puts the spotlight back on President Putin. They are already trying to discredit the investigation, in fact they’ve been doing that for sometime. And seeking to deflect focus from Russia on others. Their theories are improbable, implausible.”
Flight MH17 findings that were made public Wednesday counter Moscow's claims that the jet was brought down by Ukraine's military rather than the separatists.
The Kremlin denied any involvement in the case and said Wednesday that the radar data showed the missile that shot down the plane did not come from areas held by the pro-Russian rebels.
“First-hand radar data identified all flying objects which could have been launched or in the air over the territory controlled by rebels at that moment,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reportedly said. “The data are clear-cut... There is no rocket. If there was a rocket, it could only have been fired from elsewhere.”