Blocked by Russia at the United Nations, members seeking criminal accountability for the Malaysian jetliner destroyed in eastern Ukraine last year may create their own prosecution tribunal, Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said on Wednesday.
The minister said such a tribunal was among the narrowed options now under consideration by the core group of nations that has been leading the effort for victim justice in the destruction of the jetliner, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, the report says.
Bishop said ministers from those nations — Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine — would meet at the United Nations next Tuesday, during the annual General Assembly meeting of world leaders, for further discussions.
"There are a number of permutations, and I can assure you there are a number of international criminal lawyers who are working on this," Bishop said in an interview with the editorial board of The New York Times.
Since then, "we've narrowed the options," Bishop said in talking about the creation of a special court. "This is the 'what's next.'"
She said such a court, which does not require United Nations approval, could be established through a treaty "by all of the grieving countries, however many lost citizens."
The closest analogy to such a court, she said, was probably the Scottish panel established in the Netherlands to prosecute Libyan suspects after the explosion of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, on December 21, 1988, which killed 259 people aboard and 11 on the ground.
Bishop said other options were also under consideration, including separate prosecutions in each of the aggrieved nations.
She also did not exclude the possibility of resubmitting the resolution vetoed by the Security Council once the official investigations into the cause of the Flight 17 disaster, led by the Netherlands, are concluded later this year.
A draft report ruling out mechanical failure has already been circulated, she said, while the inquiry into precisely what felled the aircraft is still underway.
Nonetheless, she said, "nothing I've seen over the last 15 months has changed Australia's official view that it was brought down by a surface-to-air missile operated by Russian-backed separatists inside the Ukrainian border."