The Turnbull government has set aside $50 million in the federal budget to go towards the prosecution of those responsible for the downing of MH17.

By Joe McDonough

Posted on May 9, 2018

Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine in July, 2014, killing 38 Australians and 298 people in total.

The investigation has not yet been wrapped up but the prosecution of those responsible is expected to happen soon through the international criminal court in The Hague.

In preparation, the federal government has budgeted $50.3 million to contribute to the Dutch National Prosecution and allow family members of the Australian victims to fly to The Netherlands to be involved in the court proceedings.

“The government is delivering on its commitment to provide justice for the victims of the downing of MH17 over Ukraine,” states the budget papers.

“As well as meeting Australia’s share of the prosecution costs, this funding will enable victims’ families to participate in the proceedings, and provide sufficient resourcing for the Kyiv and The Hague Embassies to support Australia’s ongoing involvement in the prosecution.”

In September, foreign minister Julie Bishop signed a Memorandum of Understanding in New York confirming Australia would assist the Dutch National Prosecution process in every way possible.

“The five JIT member countries [Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Ukraine and Australia] are united in our joint resolve to hold the perpetrators to account, in line with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2166,” she said at the time.

“The Australian Government has full confidence in the quality, impartiality and integrity of the Dutch legal system and commends the Dutch Government’s leadership in seeking justice for MH17.”

From 2014, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) has been involved in the investigation. It currently has nine officers based at The Hague and Ukraine, and has deployed a total of 450 investigators and technical staff.

In March, the AFP hosted Dutch Chief Prosecutor Fred Westerbeke and his official delegation.

“Since 2014 the AFP has maintained a strong presence in the JIT and welcomes this visit from Mr Westerbeke to Australia. Discussions this week have reinforced our resolve to see out this investigation to its natural conclusion – whenever that may be,” AFP Commander Peter Crozier said.

“Following the identification and return of all Australian-based victims our focus turned to seeking justice for their families. We remain committed to working closely with our investigation partners to achieve this closure.”

The missile that brought down the passenger jet — en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam — was found by the Dutch Safety Board to be Russian-made.

Criminal investigators then deduced in 2016 that the Buk missile had been brought into eastern Ukraine from Russian territory, and had been fired from a field controlled by a Russian-backed Ukrainian militia.