UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Malaysia has asked the United Nations Security Council to set up an international tribunal to prosecute those suspected of downing a passenger airliner last year in eastern Ukraine, but Russia dismissed the move on Thursday.
Malaysia, a member of the 15-member council, distributed a draft resolution late on Wednesday, which it hoped could be adopted later this month, diplomats said. It is a joint proposal by Malaysia, Australia, the Netherlands, Belgium and Ukraine.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down in July 2014 with 298 passengers on board, two-thirds of them Dutch. It crashed in Ukrainian territory held by Russian-backed separatists.
“I don’t see any future for” this resolution, Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said in a statement translated from Russian. “Unfortunately, it seems that this is an attempt to organize a grandiose, political show, which only damages efforts to find the guilty parties.”
Russia is a veto-wielding permanent member on the 15-member council - along with France, Britain, China and the United States - and therefore it the option of blocking the proposal if it is put to a vote.
Ukraine and Western countries accuse the rebels in eastern Ukraine of shooting down the plane with a Russian-made missile. But Moscow has rejected accusations it supplied the rebels with SA-11 Buk anti-aircraft missile systems.
“When an American plane was the object of a terrorist attack, falling on Scottish territory ... the idea of an international tribunal wasn’t raised by anyone,” Churkin added, referring to the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland.
The draft U.N. resolution, seen by Reuters, would “establish an international tribunal for the sole purpose of prosecuting persons responsible for crimes connected with the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.”
It says “that in the particular circumstances of this incident, the establishment of an international tribunal would be an effective guarantee for an independent and impartial accountability process.”
A report by a multinational investigation into the cause of the crash, led by the Netherlands, is due later this year. Malaysia, Australia, Belgium and Ukraine are also part of the joint inquiry.
“We should wait for the results of the investigation and then we can think about how to most effectively approach the legal proceedings,” Churkin said.
On July 21, 2014, the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution that demanded that those responsible “be held to account and that all states cooperate fully with efforts to establish accountability.”
Additional reporting by Max De Haldevang and Peter Henderson; editing by G Crosse