Dutch PM calls on Russia to cooperate in MH17 probe

The Hague, Oct 13 (IANS) Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Tuesday urged Russia to cooperate in the criminal investigation into the MH17 crash over Ukraine’s breakaway region.

“I hereby call on the Russian authorities to fully cooperate in the remainder of the criminal investigation by the prosecutor,” said Rutte during a press conference, Xinhua reported.

Rutte issued a statement following the presentation earlier on Tuesday of the report of the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) on the cause of Malaysian Airlines flight disaster of July 17 last year.

In this report the DSB explained that the airplane crashed due to a Buk missile. The question now is who launched the missile, anti-government rebels or Ukrainian forces.

“The first priority was the repatriation and identification of the victims,” Rutte said. “This report sheds much light on the cause of the disaster. And that was our second priority. Priority number three is tracking down and prosecuting those responsible.”

“UN Security Council resolution 2166 remains our guiding principle,” he said, adding: “The resolution demands that all states cooperate fully with efforts to establish accountability. We must continue to bear in mind that the road to prosecution is hard and complex. It will take time and, again, a great deal of patience.”

The Joint Criminal Investigation Team (JIT), which is led by the Dutch national police and prosecutor and in which Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, Ukraine and the Netherlands take part, is conducting the criminal investigation into the crash. The outcome of this investigation is expected in 2016.

“The Dutch government does not issue a statement on the blame or the liability of the crash until that investigation is finalized,” Rutte said. “As the leader of this international investigation, the Netherlands can be expected to display an even greater degree of reserve in this respect.”

“By exercising an appropriate degree of caution, we will be able to stay on course,” he added. “I do understand that some people may be tempted to draw hasty conclusions after today. And I recognize that feeling. But the judicial process is complex enough, and we should refrain from doing anything that could impede it.”

“It is important now to continue to do everything we can to ensure that the guilty parties do not escape justice,” Rutte said.

In July this year Russia vetoed a resolution in the UN Security Council for the establishment of an MH17 tribunal to prosecute the perpetrators of the disaster of flight MH17. At that time Rutte called the veto a “setback” and “painful”.

Earlier on Tuesday, Russian Almaz-Antei missile manufacturer announced that the Malaysian MH17 plane was shot down by 9M38 surface-to-air missile launched by the BUK-M1 air defence missile system from the vicinity of Zaroshchenskoye settlement in southeastern Ukraine, which is under control of Ukrainian military forces rather than insurgents in eastern Ukraine.

The West has been claiming that pro-independence insurgents in eastern Ukraine shot down the aircraft and thus imposed several rounds of sanctions against Russia and Russian enterprises, which has brought Moscow’s relations with the West to a low point.

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