Daily Express
INDEPENDENT NATIONAL NEWSPAPER OF EAST MALAYSIA
Established since 1963
Justice will follow after probe

Published on: Friday, July 25, 2014

Kota Kinabalu: Not being a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) will not hamper Malaysia's plans to haul up the culprits responsible for downing by missile the Malaysia Airlines plane that killed all 298 people on board over Ukraine last Thursday.

"Whether we are a party to ICJ (International Court of Justice) or ICC, it won't hamper the government's decision to take action. There will be other ways too," said Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Datuk Nancy Shukri (pic), who noted that both Malaysia and Ukraine have yet to ratify the ICC charter.

Although Malaysia had yet to do so doesn't mean it is not taking any action, she said.

"Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak) has instructed the Attorney General to study the case first because it still cannot be ascertained who downed the aircraft," she said, Thursday.

"So its not fair for Malaysia to make a statement on the issue now," she said. "Malaysia can still take action with or without ICC For the time being, the country would not take any action until investigations are completed.

"The Attorney General is now on the case and the MH17 black boxes have yet to arrive in the country," she said.

Furthermore, she said, the International Civil Aviation Organisation and the International Air Transport Association are also studying the crash.

Opposition Lembah Pantai Member of parliament Nurul Izzah Anwar had suggested that Malaysia use the ICJ as a platform for follow-up action on the tragedy. She said although Malaysia had yet to become a member of ICJ, there were provisions which allowed the case to be brought before the court.

She referred to the Iran Air Flight 655 which was shot down by the United States of America in 1988 as an example.

She said it was crucial that the MH17 case be brought to the international court because it involved many parties.Several nations including uUkraine, Australia and the US have accused pro-Russia militants of shooting the Boeing plane on July 17 with a missile.

Russia denied it was responsible for the attack and instead blame Ukraine.

Nancy said it will take some time for the investigation to complete based on the condition of the victims, suggesting the same with ratifying ICC due to various legal differences.

Earlier, it was reported that anyone hoping to bring to justice whoever downed MH17 had to accept sobering facts.

Firstly, the crash scene is compromised, key evidence may have disappeared altogether and political complexities could block an international court from hearing the case.

If Russian nationals were involved in the disaster, they could prove untouchable: The Russian constitution forbids extradition of its citizens.

And, as legal heir to the Soviet Union, Russia has never paid a ruble in compensation to families of the 269 people killed in the 1983 shoot-down of a Korean airliner by the Soviet Air Force.

As a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, Russia has the right to veto any attempt by the United States or another member of that body to bring a case before the International Criminal Court. There are other avenues to get there, but they are fraught with problems.

The airliner's destruction over eastern Ukraine on July 17 might qualify as a war crime or a crime against humanity, but winning a guilty verdict would be difficult because it would require proving there was a systematic or widespread attack against civilians, experts said.

And if pro-Russian rebels in the self-styled "Donetsk People's Republic" were behind the plane's downing by a missile, as U.S. authorities suggest, they may be out of legal reach for the foreseeable future. They also still control the site where the Boeing 777 crashed.

Despite the long odds, many are hungry for justice.

"Malaysia Airlines was a clearly identified commercial jet," said Tony Tyler, CEO of the global airline industry's Geneva-based International Air Transport Association.

"And it was shot down - in complete violation of international laws, standards and conventions - while broadcasting its identity and presence on an open and busy air corridor at an altitude that was deemed to be safe."