MH17 joint investigation team extended for a further nine months


crest_conventionalMember countries of the joint investigation team (JIT) into the downing of MH17 in July have agreed to extend the investigation for another nine months.

The JIT comprises the Netherlands, Ukraine, Australia and Belgium, as well as other international partners including Malaysia.

I reiterated Australia’s commitment to the JIT during high level meetings in the Ukraine this week with the Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko, Prosecutor General Vitaly Yarema, and the head of the Ukrainian security service Valentyn Nalyvaichenko.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Groysman thanked Australia for its commitment, and noted the professionalism and dedication of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) working with the Ukrainian authorities.

The AFP has approximately 35 personnel working in the Ukraine and The Hague as part of the investigation through the JIT.

While member countries have agreed to extend the JIT to August 2015, I emphasised that Australia was determined to work for as long as is required to bring those responsible to justice. I had the opportunity to spend time with AFP officers working in the Ukraine, and thank them for their efforts.

Australia is committed to returning to the crash site. However, the security situation near the crash site remains unstable. Any Australian Government decision to return to the site will be a joint decision with our JIT counterparts if and when it is safe to do so.

Australia continues to encourage the international community to remain focused on finding, prosecuting and punishing the perpetrators of this cowardly attack.

We owe this to the innocent victims of the MH17 tragedy and their families.