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Putin: Calls for MH17 tribunal 'premature'

July 16, 2015

Vladimir Putin has called a Dutch request for a criminal tribunal over the crashed Malaysian Airlines jet "counterproductive." The Russian and Dutch leaders spoke the day before the one-year anniversary of the disaster.

Ukraine Absturzort der MH17
Image: Oleg Vtulkin

Russian President Vladimir Putin told Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands on Thursday that his call for an international criminal tribunal to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was "counterproductive."

The Kremlin released a statement saying that Putin had spoken with Rutte by phone on the eve of the anniversary of when the passenger jet crashed over conflict-ridden eastern Ukraine, and that Putin was of the opinion that it was "premature" to set up a tribunal, though Malaysia has also petitioned the UN to do so.

Rutte has said a United Nations tribunal would provide "the best guarantee of cooperation from all countries" as the families of victims seek justice, but the Kremlin argued that any investigation ought to be thorough, independent, and free of what their statement describd as overly politicized media coverage.

MH17 was scheduled to fly from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014. The plane lost contact with air traffic controllers about 50 miles from the Ukrainian-Russian border, and crashed near the city of Torez in the Donetsk Oblast of Ukraine. All 283 passengers and 15 crew members were killed, 196 of whom were Dutch citizens, according to the government's website.

The cause of the crash has not yet been determined by the official Dutch investigation, but it is assumed to have been shot down by anti-aircraft missiles.

The Dutch Safety Board's final report on the incident is expected to be released in October 2015.

es/msh (Reuters, AFP)