PM: Vital to get physical proof

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia is pushing for efforts to assemble physical evidence that Flight MH17 was shot down by missile in Ukraine.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Malaysia has the intelligence reports as to what happened to MH17 which are pretty conclusive.

“What we (need to) do next is to assemble physical evidence – evidence that can be brought to court when the time comes so that it can be proven beyond any doubt that the plane had been shot down by missile,” the Prime Minister said.

Najib was speaking during a question-and-answer session at a joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who was on a one-day official visit to Malaysia, at the Perdana Putra building here yesterday.

Najib said Malaysia and the international investigation teams from Australia and Netherlands were very keen to re-enter the crash site in eastern Ukraine to gather evidence before the winter season.

“We need at least a few weeks as Malaysia together with Australia, the Netherlands and other countries would want to comb the area because the area is pretty wide.

“It is not only to search for body parts of the victims but also to assemble the physical evidence required so once that process is completed, we will then look at the criminal side which is to find out who is responsible for this atrocious crime,” he said.

Najib said Malaysia demanded a full, independent and transparent international investigation into the incident in accordance with relevant international conventions.

Abbott in the meantime has offered to build a memorial in honour of the victims of the MH370 tragedy at an appropriate place along the country’s western coastline.

He, however, said his country would be guided by the wishes of the Malaysian Government and the families of those on board the flight which went missing on March 8.

“To the families, you will find in Australia a welcome comfort and, hopefully, closure and peace,” he said.

Abbott praised Najib for the wisdom shown in his response to the MH370 and MH17 disasters which happened within four months of each other.

“No country, government or prime minister should be subjected to the twists of cruel fate. But I must say that Malaysia has responded to the tragedy of MH370 and the atrocity of MH17 with strength and resilience,” he said.

Abbott, on his first official visit to Malaysia, said he could not have asked for a stronger friend than Najib in such testing times.

He also said a new phase of the search for MH370 would begin after a fortnight and would continue until all humanly possible efforts had been made to scour the probable impact zone.

On the militant group Islamic State, Abbott said it was a “death cult” and thanked Najib for his strong statement against it.