Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad believes Russia has been scapegoated for the downing of MH17.
During a government event on Thursday, marking the fifth anniversary of the tragedy, Mohamad criticised the objectivity of the five-year investigation by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT).
“We are very unhappy, because from the very beginning it was a political issue on how to accuse Russia of the wrongdoing,” he told reporters.
“Even before they examine, they already said Russia. And now they said they have proof. It is very difficult for us to accept that.”
The Prime Minister’s comments came despite Malaysia being an international representative of the JIT – an investigative team composed of police and criminal justice authorities from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine.
At the same press conference, Malaysian prosecutor Mohamad Hanafiah bin Zakaria told reporters the findings “are based on extensive investigations and also legal research”.
On 17 July 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down by a Russian surface-to-air missile over Ukraine. All 298 people on board lost their lives, including 38 Australians.
Yesterday marked the fifth anniversary of the tragedy, which came amid calls by the European Union (EU) for Russia to accept responsibility for the tragedy, following the announcement charges would be levelled by JIT against three Russians and a Ukraine for the downing of MH17.
In Australia, a quiet protest in Sydney occurred outside the Russian consulate in Woollahra to mark the announcement.
Commemorations occurred at a memorial service in the Netherlands at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, where passengers boarded the flight heading to Kuala Lumpur in June, 2014. Of the 298 passengers killed in the downing, 189 were Dutch, according to data supplied to ABC News by Malaysia Airlines.
In May 2018, a declaration by the JIT stated that the Buk missile installation that brought down MH17 belonged to the Russian army.
Russia has denied any involvement; however, Moscow announced on Tuesday it had entered “state responsibility negotiations” with Australia and the Netherlands to establish who was ultimately culpable for the disaster, according to ABC News.