Malaysia’s new Transport Minister has vowed his nation will not rest until it brings closure to the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine four years ago.
Speaking on the fourth anniversary of the crash, Malaysian Transport Minister YB Loke Siew Fook said Malaysia remained resolved in its pursuit to prosecute those responsible for the incident in which 298 passengers and crew died.
The plane was shot down by a Russian-made BUK missile over a region controlled by Russian separatists as it traveled from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014.
Acknowledging the pain still suffered by families of the victims, Loke did not specifically mention Russia in a statement issued to mark the anniversary but said Malaysia appreciated a May 24 presentation by the multinational Joint Investigation Team (JIT).
That presentation centered on findings that the missile that destroyed MH17 came from a Russian Army unit, the 53rd Anti Aircraft Missile brigade based in Kursk in the Russian Federation.
“As a member of the JIT, Malaysia once again expresses its gratitude for all the hard work of the JIT members that has enabled critical information regarding the tragic incident to be established,” Loke said
“Malaysia has consistently called for and supported a fully transparent, independent and exhaustive investigation process.
“Hence, it reiterates the JIT’s call for the public to come forward to assist in the investigation process and to provide additional supporting evidence against the people directly involved in order for justice to prevail.
“Malaysia and the other JIT members would not rest until we bring closure to this tragedy.”
It remains unclear whether US President Donald Trump raised MH17 during his controversial summit with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin in Finland on Monday.
Trump did not mention the issue in his contentious post-summit press conference and the White House had not responded to queries from AirlineRatings at the time of writing.
Russia has strenuously denied involvement in the MH17 tragedy and has accused the JIT of ignoring Russian “facts and evidence”.
But Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is among those skeptical of the Russian protests.
“President Putin himself said you shouldn’t trust anybody,” Turnbull told Melbourne radio 3AW on Tuesday.
“I certainly don’t trust President Putin when he said he wasn’t responsible for the shooting down of MH17, which was four years ago today.”
The G7 Foreign Ministers — and particularly Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop — had set the stage for Trump to discuss the issue with a statement ahead of Monday’s meeting and Tuesday’s anniversary.
The Foreign Ministers of the G7 countries once again condemned the shooting down of MH17 over Ukraine four years ago with the loss of 298 passengers and crew.
“We are united in our support of Australia and the Netherlands as they call on Russia to account for its role in this incident and to cooperate fully with the process to establish the truth and achieve justice for the victims of MH17 and their next of kin,’’ the statement said.
“In a rules-based international order, those responsible for unacceptable actions, such as the firing or launching of the BUK missile of Russian origin, which intercepted and downed a civilian aircraft, must be held accountable.