Friday, 25 September 2015

Pan Am-style tribunal mooted for MH17

[This is the headline over a report published today on the website of Australia’s 9News. It reads in part:]

Nations seeking justice over the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 could form a tribunal similar to that established to prosecute Libyan suspects over the 1998 bombing of a Pan Am flight over Scotland.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says nations affected by the MH17 disaster were also considering separate prosecutions.

The Malaysia Airlines flight was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed over eastern Ukraine in July last year, killing all 298 passengers and crew.

A report by the Dutch led investigation team, set to be published on October 13, is understood to include evidence the plane was brought down by a Russian-made Buk missile fired from separatist territory in eastern Ukraine.

Russia has denied any involvement but in July used its veto power at the UN to block a resolution that would have formed a tribunal to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Ms Bishop, in an interview with The New York Times, said a core group of aggrieved nations had since "narrowed the options".

"This is the ‘what's next’," Ms Bishop said.

The foreign minister said a court, which does not require UN approval, could be established through a treaty by all of the countries that lost citizens and residents.

Ms Bishop said the closest analogy to such jurisdiction was the Scottish panel established in the Netherlands to prosecute Libyan suspects after the explosion of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in December 1988, which killed 270 people.

Representatives from some of the affected nations would meet in New York next week to consider their options.

Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine are expected to meet next Tuesday during the annual General Assembly meeting of world leaders for further talks.

"There are a number of permutations, and I can assure you there are a number of international criminal lawyers who are working on this," Ms Bishop said.

[A further report on the Europe Online website can be read here.]

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