‘Lockerbie-style tribunal an option regarding MH17 disaster’

Canberra, Oct 2 (IANS) A Lockerbie disaster-style tribunal could be held to get to the bottom of the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said on Sunday.

Following last week’s report which claimed Russian separatists shot down the plane over Ukraine in 2014, Bishop said that an international trial could be considered to bring about a speedier conclusion, Xinhua news agency reported.

Russia has previously said it would veto the UN Security Council (UNSC) from investigating the circumstances of the disaster, but according to Bishop, there were other ways to bring justice to the families of those who lost their lives.

Bishop said that while she would not rule out attempting to launch a fresh investigation in the UNSC, a number of alternative options were available.

She told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that while it would be easier to setup a “domestic” tribunal in the Netherlands, where MH17 originated from, it would be hard to extradite those required to stand trial.

She said that an international effort would likely be more successful in bringing the perpetrators to justice.

“There can be a Lockerbie-style prosecution, a tribunal that’s set up by the international community,” Bishop said.

“Or there can be domestic prosecutions in, say, the Netherlands, as long as they had the powers of extradition and the like.

“I think a domestic-style tribunal would possibly be easier to establish but you’d have to make sure that it had all the necessary powers.

“For example, extradition to be able to absolutely hold those responsible for this atrocity to account.”

According to Bishop, the Netherlands has previously indicated it was interested in setting up a special tribunal similar to the one used in the case of the Lockerbie disaster.

In 1988, Pan Am flight 103 was blown up over Scotland, and a tribunal was set up to facilitate the trial of the accused.

UN approval would not be required should a similar tribunal be instated in the case of MH17, but it would require a treaty between all nations which lost citizens in the disaster.

MH17 was a scheduled passenger flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. It was shot down over Ukraine using a BUK missile with 298 passengers and crew on board.