June 6, 2015 / 4:56 AM / 3 years ago

In Russia, Dutch foreign minister pushes for MH17 prosecution

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders has discussed with his Russian counterpart efforts to prosecute suspects in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flights MH17, his office said in a statement late on Friday.

Investigators work near a sign reading "No entrance! There may be remains of the victims of flight MH17 crash at the territory" at the site of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo) in Donetsk region, April 16, 2015. REUTERS/Igor Tkachenko

During a visit to Moscow Koenders also discussed a Russian blacklist of European politicians during a meeting with his counterpart Sergei Lavrov, it said.

“They weren’t easy discussions because there are many areas where we don’t agree,” Koenders said. “But they were discussions that needed to happen.”

Roughly two-thirds of the 298 victims of the airline disaster on July 17 were Dutch. Suspects have yet to be identified by Dutch prosecutors.

The plane is widely believed to have been shot down with a surface-to-air missile launched by pro-Russian forces in Ukrainian territory, but Moscow denies involvement.

Koenders said Lavrov expressed support for an existing U.N. Security Council resolution which commits the international community to bringing the perpetrators to justice.

“It’s our job to do everything possible to keep the international community’s focus on MH17. That’s our obligation to the victims and their loved ones,” he said.

A Dutch Safety Board report on the precise cause of the crash is due in October.

The Netherlands is leading an international investigation into the disaster and has vowed to prosecute those responsible. But the case is unprecedented and it will be legally and politically challenging to put foreign suspects on trial.

Reporting by Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Tom Heneghan

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