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Russia vetoes MH17 UN tribunal

July 29, 2015

Russia has vetoed a UN Security Council resolution which had aimed to set up an international tribunal to prosecute those suspected of downing MH17. The passenger plane crashed in eastern Ukraine just over a year ago.

Archive picture of the MH17 crash site
Image: Oleg Vtulkin

The United Nations Security Council draft resolution to set up a special international criminal tribunal to prosecute those responsible for shooting down the Malaysia Airlines plane in July 2014 was vetoed by Russia on Wednesday.

The move had been widely expected. Russia has veto power on the UN Security Council. The resolution, which had been drafted by the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine, had 11 of the 15 members of the Security Council voting in its favor. Angola, China and Venezuela abstained from the vote.

The Security Council session began with a moment's silence in honor of the people killed in the disaster. The Netherlands is leading an international investigation, which includes Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine. The majority of the 298 passengers and crew were Dutch.

Veto not unexpected

Russia last week submitted an alternative resolution which called for a "full, thorough, transparent and independent international investigation," but did not mention the creation of an international tribunal for prosecution.

The Russian draft also noted that "the establishment of the true causes of this aerial incident is critical for bringing those responsible to justice."

The West and Ukraine suspect that the plane, which was flying over Ukraine en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down by pro-Russia separatists using a surface-to-air missile. However, Russia has denied that, alleging MH17 was shot down by a Ukrainian missile or military jet.

The plane crashed in separatist-held eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014.

se/kms (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)