Relatives of people killed in the MH17 plane disaster have asked Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohammad to explain comments he made to reporters in which he said he doubted a ‘highly disciplined’ party such as Russia could have downed the plane five years ago.
‘His comments are not only bizarre and disturbing, but they are counterproductive to the hunt for the truth about the murder of 298 people, including 43 Malaysians,’ the Werkgroep Waarheidsvinding MH17 said in a press release.
‘Ultimately, we experience his comments, with all respect for the prime minister and his job, as a betrayal of all the victims and their families in mourning.’
Mohammad made the comments at a press conference with the Japanese Foreign Correspondents Club last week.
‘They are accusing Russia, but where is the evidence?,’ he said of the JIT investigation. ‘We know the missile that brought down the plane is a Russian type missile but it could also have been made in Ukraine.
‘You need strong evidence to show it was fired by the Russians. It could be by the rebels in Ukraine, it could be the Ukrainian government because they too have the same missile.’
Last May the Netherlands and Australia said they are holding Russia liable for its role in the shooting down of flight MH17 in July 2014.
The decision to hold Russia responsible follows on from a report by investigators looking into the crash, who said the Buk missile which brought down the plane was fired by a weapons system in the hands of a Russian brigade.
Russia has consistently denied any involvement.
The Dutch government has also written to the Malaysian prime minister asking him to explain his comments.
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