Australia pushes for trial over downed plane

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A pro-Russia militiaman at the crash site. Reuters

SYDNEY (Reuters) – The perpetrators who brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in July 2014, killing all 298 aboard, may be tried in absentia, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said yesterday.

Most of those on board the Boeing 777 were Dutch, but others came from 17 countries, including 38 Australians.

It was shot down by a Russian-made Buk missile over eastern Ukrainian territory held by pro-Russia separatists, the Dutch Safety Board concluded in 2015.

Late in June, the Netherlands said suspects in the case would be tried in a Dutch court, and under Dutch law.

Ms Bishop said “every legal avenue” was being pursued and urged Russia to comply with UN Security Council resolution 2166, authored by Australia.

“That calls on all states to cooperate to ensure that those responsible for the killing are brought to justice,” she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“It may be that there will have be to a trial in absentia,” Ms Bishop added.

A foreign ministry spokeswoman was unable to provide additional details.

Moscow, which denies any involvement in the fighting in eastern Ukraine, also denies one of its rockets could have been used against MH17.

The decision on a trial in the Netherlands follows attempts, blocked by Russia in 2015, to set up an international court over the incident.

It is not clear how far Russia will cooperate with a Dutch court if prosecutors name Russian suspects or request information.

Ms Bishop’s comments come just days after Malaysia expressed hopes that suspects would be known by the end of the year.

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