SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia urged the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday to support the establishment of an international tribunal to prosecute those suspected of downing Malaysia Airlines jet MH17 in eastern Ukraine last year.
Malaysia, part of the 15-member council until 2016, distributed a draft resolution on the tribunal last week, which it hoped could be adopted later this month. It is a joint proposal with Australia, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Ukraine.
However, the move has been dismissed by Russia, which is a veto-wielding permanent member on the 15-member council, along with France, Britain, China and the United States. Russia has the option of blocking the proposal if it is put to a vote.
“The establishment of an international criminal tribunal ... would send a clear message that the international community will not tolerate acts that threaten international peace and security by endangering civil aviation,” Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in a statement.
“A tribunal established by the Council would ensure broad international support for prosecutions and would maximise the prospects of securing international cooperation, which will be necessary for an effective prosecution,” she said.
Malaysia Airlines MH17 was shot down a year ago with 298 passengers on board, two-thirds of them Dutch. It crashed in Ukrainian territory held by Russian-backed separatists.
Ukraine and Western countries accuse rebels in eastern Ukraine of shooting down the plane with a Russian-made missile. Moscow has rejected accusations it supplied the rebels with SA-11 Buk anti-aircraft missile systems.
Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Richard Pullin and Paul Tait