KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 30): The court proceedings examining criminal responsibility in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which will start in March next year, will hopefully bring closure for the victim's next-of-kin, families and relatives, says Ukrainian Ambassador to Malaysia Olexander Nechytaylo.
The envoy believes that the new development will help bring justice for all the 298 people on board, including 15 crew members, who perished.
"After more than five years of the investigation, the trial will be an important milestone in bringing closure to the families and relatives," he told Bernama after hosting a year-end luncheon for Bernama journalists and editors at a hotel, here, recently.
On July 17, 2014, the aircraft, with 298 onboard from Amsterdam en route to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down over Donetsk in Ukraine.
An international joint investigation team (JIT) led by the Dutch concluded that MH17 was downed by a BUK anti-aircraft missile fired by pro-Russian separatists in the conflict with Ukraine.
In June 2019, the JIT, comprising Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine, announced that four individuals — three Russians and one Ukrainian — would be charged with the downing of MH17.
On June 19, the Dutch Public Prosecution Service charged them with murder.
International arrest warrants were issued for the accused, who are expected to be tried in absentia on March 9, 2020, in the District Court of The Hague.
On another matter, Nechytaylo said Ukraine, among the leading global exporters and producers of sunflower oil and grain crop, is already exporting sunflower oil to Malaysia before being re-exported to other countries.
"Ukraine also wants to learn some of the best practices of Malaysia in managing Haj pilgrims to Mecca as there are approximately two million Muslims residing in Ukraine," said the envoy, who is on a mission in Kuala Lumpur for three years.
Commenting on the tourism arrivals from Ukraine to Malaysia, he said an average of some 1,000 people from Ukraine visit Malaysia every month, registering a growth of 10% yearly.
"As part of our programme for next year, we will also plan to showcase the Ukraine Film Festival to the moviegoers in Malaysia by bringing some of the best motion pictures," he said, adding that Ukraine is expecting a gross domestic product (GDP) growth of four per cent this year.