MH17: Vladimir Putin rejects calls for UN tribunal as 'premature and counterproductive'

Russian President made the comments in a telephone call with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte

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The Independent Online

Vladimir Putin has rejected calls for an international tribunal to prosecute those suspected of shooting down flight MH17 as "premature and counterproductive" on the eve of the first anniversary of the tragedy.

The Russian President made the comments in a telephone call with Mark Rutte, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, after the Dutch politician said earlier this week that a UN tribunal would give "the best guarantee of cooperation from all countries" in seeking justice for the victims' families.

In a statement the Kremlin said Putin "explained Russia's position regarding the premature and counterproductive initiatives of several countries, including the Netherlands, on the establishment of an international tribunal."

The statement said Putin underlined how any investigation and decision must be thorough, objective and independent, the Reuters news agency reported.

It said the Russian President also criticised what it described as politicised media coverage offering various versions of the circumstances surrounding the incident in which all 298 on board the plane were killed.

A top Russian aviation official meanwhile has also today hit out at the leaking of a draft report on the crash, claiming it was intended to put pressure on investigators.

Oleg Storchevoi, the deputy head of the Russian Aviation Agency, said Russia found "a lot to contradict" in the draft report, according to AP.

The agency reported how a US official had said the report showed the plane was brought down by a BUK surface-to-air milssile launched from a village under separatist control.

Russia disputes accusations that pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine shot down the Malaysian airline with a Russian-supplied BUK missile. Officials have suggested it was shot down by Ukrainian forces, a claim which Kiev denies.

The Netherlands is leading the criminal investigation, assisted by Belgium, Australia and Ukraine, while a final report on the cause of the crash is due to be released by the Dutch Safety Board in October.

Additional reporting by Reuters and AP

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