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Russia’s UN draft on MH17 crash doesn’t call for tribunal

EDITH M. LEDERERJuly 20, 2015

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Russia on Monday introduced a U.N. resolution demanding that those responsible for shooting down a Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine last year be brought to justice — but eliminating the international tribunal that the five countries investigating the crash are seeking to prosecute the perpetrators.

Russia said earlier this month it opposed a draft submitted by Malaysia on behalf of the five countries that would establish an international court.

The five countries — Malaysia, Ukraine, Netherlands, Australia and Belgium — reiterated in a joint statement Monday that a year after the Security Council demanded accountability for those responsible for the crash it’s time to establish a tribunal.

The rival Russian draft resolution, obtained by The Associated Press, expresses concern that the investigation isn’t ensuring “due transparency in its organization and work methods, which may have a negative impact on its outcome.”

Ukraine and the West suspect Flight MH17, traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile fired by Russian soldiers or Russia-backed separatist rebels, on July 17, 2014 killing all 298 people on board.

Moscow denies that and Russian officials and state media have alleged the plane was shot down by a Ukrainian missile or warplane.

The Russian draft states that “the establishment of the true causes of this aerial incident is critical for bringing those responsible to justice” and suggests that the International Civil Aviation Organization “could play a more active and appropriate role in this investigation.”

The Security Council met behind closed doors Monday afternoon so Russia’s Ambassador Vitaly Churkin could go through the text.

“We had a good conversation,” Churkin said afterward. “We’ll continue discussing if the Security Council can continue playing a useful role in this whole matter.”

Asked why the draft didn’t include a tribunal, he replied, “because it’s not what we’re talking about in the draft.”

The resolution circulated by the five countries investigating the crash was drafted under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which can be enforced militarily.

It states that the downing of the plane “and its implications for the safety of civil aviation, constitute a threat to international peace and security.” It would authorize an international tribunal to bring those responsible to justice and includes a statute establishing an International Criminal Tribunal for Flight MH17 in an annex to the resolution.

The five countries noted in Monday’s statement that all other U.N. tribunals and courts were established prior to the completion of investigations, and this “would ensure that the tribunal was as depoliticized as possible.”

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