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Dutch ministry weighs options for MH17 prosecution

Various alternatives remain under consideration for pursuing a prosecution of those accused of bringing down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine two years ago.

While a decision has not been made, Dutch security and justice minister Ard van der Steur has written to the lower house of the country’s parliament outlining two particular options.

The assessment follows last year’s failure to secure United Nations approval for an international criminal tribunal after a veto by Russia’s representative on the UN Security Council.

Van der Steur says one option is to focus on an international tribunal, in spite of the UN failure, while another is to consider a national prosecution in co-operation with one of the five states in the MH17 joint investigation team.

The ministry says both options are “complex” and involve legal hurdles.

Van der Steur says that the choice of the most effective prosecution and adjudication mechanism will be made once the investigation permits, and that the government is committed to having as many arrangements as possible in place ahead of this decision.

Among the legal considerations are the ease with which suspects might be transferred – noting the possibility of constitutional bans on extraditions – and the fact that suspects might be tried in absentia.

Van der Steur says the joint investigation team must be free to carry out its inquiries independently and “without political interference” in order to maximise the probability of a trial, acknowledging that this is a “long-term task”.

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