Australia's government resolute in commitment to pursuing accountability for downing of MH17 – joint statement
Australia's Foreign Senator, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women Marise Payne and Minister for Home Affairs and MP Peter Dutton have made a joint statement on the fifth anniversary of the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Donbas, saying that Australia's government remains resolute in its commitment to pursuing accountability for the tragedy.
"Today marks the fifth anniversary of the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, resulting in the tragic deaths of 298 passengers and crew, including 38 Australians… While nothing can bring back those who lost their lives, the Australian Government remains resolute in its commitment to pursuing accountability for the downing and to achieving justice for the victims and their loved ones," the joint statement, which was published on the Australian Foreign Affairs Ministry's website on Wednesday, says.
The ministers said the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) on June 19, 2019, announced indictments of four individuals for their alleged role in the downing and that this is a "significant step towards justice and responsibility." The ministers said Australia's government appraises positively continued efforts by the JIT, which involves authorities from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands, and Ukraine.
"Together with the Netherlands we are engaging in talks with the Russian Federation arising out of our joint assertion on 25 May 2018 of Russia's state responsibility for its role in the downing," the officials said.
Australia has committed $50.3 million over four years to support the prosecution and ongoing investigation and to ensure the victims' families and loved ones can meaningfully participate in the Dutch court proceedings, they said.
As reported, Malaysia Airlines MH17 flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) was shot down over Donetsk region on July 17, 2014. All 298 passengers on board died.
In May 2018, JIT representatives said they had established that the plane had been shot down by a Russian BUK surface-to-air missile. Government officials from the Netherlands and Australia said that month that they hold Russia responsible for the downed plane.
In June 2019, the JIT named four persons they suspect of involvement in the downing. They are Russian citizens Igor Girkin (Strelkov), Sergey Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov and Ukrainian citizen Leonid Kharchenko. The Dutch prosecutor said he planned to charge the four suspects in the case of the downed Boeing.