No amnesty for MH17 attackers: Dutch, Ukraine PMs

MH17
The Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash site in Ukraine. Source: Twitter/ @mashableThe Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash site in Ukraine. Source: Twitter/ @mashable

Prime Minister Mark Rutte got confirmation from Ukrainian President Porosjenko that the perpetrators of the MH17 disaster will not go unpunished. Rutte and Porosjenko spoke at the EU summit in Brussels yesterday. 

After his discussion with Porosjenko, Prime Minister Rutte stated that the persecution of the MH17 perpetrators is not covered by the amnesty in the Minsk-agreement, Elsevier reports. Porosjenko was invited to Brussels to discuss the situation in his country with the government leaders. After the summit he told NOS that the perpetrators of the MH17 disaster "will never get amnesty".

The Minsk-agreement was finalized after negotiations between Chancellor Merkel, President Hollande, President Putin and President Poroshenko. The mention of amnesty in the agreement raised a lot of uncertainty in the Netherlands among the Cabinet, the Tweede Kamer (lower house of parliament) and the relatives of the victims of the disaster.

The uncertainty revolved around a passage in the agreement which (roughly translated) states: "Providing pardon and amnesty by way of enacting a law forbids persecution and punishment of persons in relation to events that took place in specific parts of Donetsk and Luhansk in Ukraine."

The Minsk convention of September 5th last year had a similar passage, but with obvious exceptions. The United Nations' High Commissioner of Human Rights reported on these exceptions. "Responsibility, however, will not be waived in a wide range of cases. These include: '(...) and persons who committed a crime connected with the crash of the 'Malaysia Airlines' flight MH17". NOS reports based on the report on the human right situation in Ukraine 16 September 2014.

According to criminal lawyer Knoops, it is very important for the Netherlands that the exception is also put on paper. "Lawyers look at text, not the verbal assurances. The verbal promise that Rutte has received is not valid", he said to NOS. Knoops states that the Netherlands' legal position will not be very strong if the exception is not included in the final treaty. This is because the Netherlands indirectly also signed the treaty, he explains. "One of the parties involved is the OSCE. There was negotiated on behalf of the OSCE and signed. The Netherlands is also a member of the OSCE and is therefore included."

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