Close ↓
Speakers, Datuk Dr Gurdial Singh Nijar during MH17 : The Quest for Justice at International Islamic University Malaysia, Gombak. (NSTP/NURUL SHAFINA JEMENON)

KUALA LUMPUR: International law experts believe that the Attorney-General Chambers could initiate a civil suit against the Ukranian government over the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, a worldwide tragedy that occurred five years ago.

Legal expert Datuk Dr Gurdial Singh Nijar said Malaysia can build a case from various evidence, which suggests that the Ukranian government did not fulfil its international obligation by preventing the incident from happening.

The aviation tragedy occurred five years ago and saw all 298 passengers and crew members killed.

“I think it is a good idea (for Malaysia) to initiate some kind of action against Ukraine.

“There is ample evidence to suggest that there are loopholes in the defences (adopted by the Ukranian government).

“They (Ukranian government) did not warn or close the airspace (over the combat zone) and do a variety of things... (the question) is whether they (Ukranian government) had fulfilled their international obligations.

“There were also some evidences which suggest that there were missiles being brought in and so on. That itself can become a basis that they (Ukranian government) should have taken precautionary action,” he said.

Gurdial was among the speakers who took part in the “MH17:The Quest For Justice” forum at the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) here today.

He was among two speakers who gave their views during a session titled “MH17: The Legal Dimensions”. The other speaker was Canadian criminal defence attorney and international law expert John Philpot, who has 30 years experience as a lawyer and activist.

The session was moderated by Prof Datin Mary George from Universiti Malaya’s Faculty of Law.

Gurdial and Philpot were responding to a question by former Malaysian ambassador to the Netherlands Datuk Dr Fauziah Mohd Talib, who asked the speakers if it was a good idea for the AGC to take legal action against the Ukranian government over the downing of MH17.

Fauziah also moderated another session at the day-long forum.

“From my informal contacts, I do not think they (A-GC) embarking on that. I do not think it is in their radar at all.

“Whether there can be moves made to start something along this line, the problem would be (for the AGC and Malaysian investigators) to collect evidence to show liability (by the Ukranian government),” Gurdial added.

He said if the A-GC was mulling to take action against the Ukranian government, it has to be supported and backed by the government of Malaysia.

“It will provide an alternative route in which lawyers from Malaysia would be in charge of things and the nature of evidence.

“Whether it (the case) will succeed or not, it is a different matter.

“At least, there will be enough ‘blaze’ of publicities that will bring out the alternative narratives.”

Meanwhile, another speaker at the forum reiterated his previous findings that the aircraft was not shot down by BUK missiles as suggested by the Dutch Safety Board.

Peter Haisenko said this was due to the presence of shrapnel-like-holes based on his observations on pictures of the debris of the aircraft.

Although he had never been to the crash scene, Haisenko, who had served as a co-pilot and captain with Lufthansa on international routes, stood his ground that a commercial aircraft does not disintegrate mid-air without an internal explosion.

“A passenger airplane, which was hit by a BUK missile, will not crash immediately. It will probably fly along for a long time.

“A hit from BUK missile cannot produce blasts deposit from inside the cockpit,” he said.

Flight MH17, which was flying 298 passengers and crew including 43 Malaysians was shot down near Hrabove, a village in the eastern part of Ukraine on July 17, 2014.

The aircraft departed Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam and was en route to Kuala Lumpur.

Passengers were from Malaysia, the Netherlands, Australia, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, New Zealand, Canada and th

e Philippines.

On June 19, a Dutch-led international team tasked with assigning criminal responsibility for the plane's destruction, charged four people - three Russians and one Ukranian - with murder over the tragedy.

Dutch prosecutor Fred Westerbeke had said the four were responsible for bringing the BUK missile system from Russia to eastern Ukraine "even though they did not push the button themselves".

Their trial is expected to begin in the Netherlands in March next year, though they might be tried in absentia because Russia would not hand over its citizens. The whereabouts of the Ukrainian implicated in the charge remains unknown.

On June 20, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had said that the accusations against three Russians and one Ukrainian were politically-motivated against Russia, and insisted that Malaysia wanted ironclad proof that Russia shot down the aircraft.

Dr Mahathir had also responded to the charges against the four people as something that came from “no proof, only hearsay.”

He had said that Malaysia was "very unhappy" because from the very beginning, the tragedy had become a political issue that saw Russia being accused even before the case was examined.

Close ↓