Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is pushing to establish an international tribunal to prosecute the people who shot down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in July 2014.
She’s expected to address the UN Security Council in New York tomorrow.
Despite Bishop urging Russia’s UN representative Vitaly Churkin to support the Malaysia-proposed, Australia-backed motion, Churkin has said his country will veto any such move and has proposed waiting for the completion of the Dutch-led investigation. The findings are expected in October.
“We will vote against. I have no doubt about that. If the resolution enrols nine or more votes, we will veto it,” Churkin told Russian news agency Tass on Tuesday.
The Council is expected to vote on the independent criminal tribunal in the early hours of Thursday morning. A tribunal will go forward should it receive the required 9 of 15 votes.
So far it has the support of Australia, Malaysia, Belgium, Netherlands and Ukraine.
Bishop told Fairfax Media she is determined to hold those responsible to account and that the level of support from UN Security Council members is promising.
“Justice delayed is justice denied. We owe it to the families and the loved ones of those who died on MH17 to pursue the criminal investigation as soon as possible,” she said.
Flight MH17 was downed on July 17 2014 over rebel-held east Ukraine during heavy fighting between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists.
All 298 people, including 39 Australians, were killed.
Speaking to Sky News this morning from New York, Bishop said she has been meeting with representatives of all four nations to sure up support for the tribunal but a “very frank discussion” with Churkin has again resulted in the pair going back and forth with “counter arguments”.
The root of much of Bishop’s frustration is the fact that Russia supported the original unanimous resolution which called for cease fire of the conflict between Ukraine, then supported the joint independent investigation, as well as the demand that those responsible would be brought to justice.
She said the a UN-back independent tribunal would be the most effective in bringing families of those killed in the MH17 disater justice, but it would need to be set now.
“I can’t think of a more impartial than independent council,” she said.
“A tribunal with backing of UN is most likely to deliver justice and… now is the appropriate time.”
She said other options are available should Russia go ahead with a veto vote.
“If it does it would be a set-back but there would be other ways to set up tribunal.”
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