[JURIST] A spokesperson for the Dutch Public Prosecutor [official website, in Dutch] said Monday that their office has opened a war crimes investigation into last week’s crash of Malaysia Airlines MH17 [BBC backgrounder] in Ukraine. Prosecutors are investigating allegations [Reuters report] of murder, war crimes and intentionally downing an airliner, and a representative is reportedly in Ukraine as part of the investigation. Under the Netherlands’ Law on International Crimes [text, DOC], the government can prosecute any individual who committed crimes against a Dutch citizen. Of the 298 passengers and crew members killed in the crash, 193 were Dutch citizens.
MH17 was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur last Thursday when it crashed near Hrabove in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, about 25 miles from the Ukraine-Russia border. It is believed to have been shot down with a Buk surface-to-air missile. US President Barack Obama said last week that there is “credible evidence” the missile was fired from a location held by pro-Russian rebels. A UN official said last week that the plane crash highlights the need to resolve [UN News Centre report] the ongoing political crisis between Russia and Ukraine. Last month the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] reported increasing evidence [JURIST report] of abductions, detentions, torture and killings in the two eastern regions of Ukraine where armed forces hold control. In May the OHCHR reported alarming deterioration of human rights [JURIST report] in the country. Earlier that month UN rights chief Navi Pillay expressed grave concern [JURIST report] over the escalating unrest in Ukraine that has brought increasing destruction and death to the region. In April the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] opened an investigation [JURIST report] into alleged crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes in Ukraine.