Russia could face legal action over its alleged role in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine in July last year as leaders of affected countries are set to meet in New York next week. The scheduled meeting comes after possible parts of a Russian missile system were recently found at the crash site, serving as the first physical evidence that a missile strike could have downed the aircraft.
Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, is expected to meet her counterparts from Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine during the annual United Nations general assembly summit Tuesday. At the meeting, the leaders are likely to propose a tribunal similar to the one formed to prosecute Libyan suspects over the bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, the Australian Associated Press (AAP) reported.
The Flight MH17 -- bound for Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam -- was shot down in rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board, including 39 Australians. Ukraine and Western nations have claimed there is evidence that the plane was hit by a Russian-made missile fired by pro-Moscow separatists on July 17, 2014.
Meanwhile, a Dutch-led investigation team is also expected to publish a report on Oct. 13, including evidence that the plane was brought down by a Russian Buk missile fired from rebel-held territory. However, Russia has denied all allegations and had used its veto power at the U.N. in July to block a resolution needed to establish a tribunal to prosecute those responsible for the crash.
U.S. Representative to the U.N. Samantha Power criticized Russia's decision at the time, and said Moscow had “abused the privilege given to it by the U.N.” Power added that Russia’s “efforts to deny justice only intensify the pain felt by victims of flight MH17.”