Ukraine wants Russia held to account over MH17 downing

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. (REUTERS)
Updated 17 July 2017
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Ukraine wants Russia held to account over MH17 downing

KIEV: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Monday insisted Russia must be held to account over the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, three years on from the tragedy that killed 298 people.
International investigators have said the Boeing airliner flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was blown out of the sky over conflict-wracked east Ukraine on July 17, 2014 by a Buk missile system brought in from Russia and fired from territory held by Moscow-backed rebels.
The probe being led by The Netherlands — which suffered the majority of losses — is focusing on some 100 people suspected of having played an “active role” in the incident, but the investigators have not publicly named any suspects.
The West and Kiev are adamant that all the evidence points to the insurgents and Moscow.
Russia and the separatist authorities it supports, however, continue to deny any involvement and have sought repeatedly to deflect the blame onto Ukraine.
“It was a barefaced crime that could have been avoided if not for the Russian aggression, Russian system and Russian missile that came from Russian territory,” Poroshenko wrote on Facebook.
“Our responsibility before the dead and before future generations is to show to the aggressor terrorists that responsibility is unavoidable for all the crimes committed.”
Officials announced this month that the trials of any suspects arrested over the shooting down of MH17 will be held in the Netherlands.
The countries leading the joint investigation — Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, The Netherlands and Ukraine — agreed that any trials will be carried out within the Dutch legal system.
Poroshenko said that he was “convinced that the objectivity and impartiality of Dutch justice will complete this path.”
“It is our shared duty in the face of the memory of those whose beating hearts were stopped exactly three years ago by a Russian missile,” he wrote.
No official events are planned in Kiev to mark the third anniversary but local residents are expected to gather for a small religious ceremony at the crash site in rebel-held territory.
Russia and Ukraine have been locked in a bitter feud since Moscow seized the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in 2014 after the ouster of a Kremlin-backed leader by pro-Western protesters in Kiev.
Moscow was then accused of masterminding and fueling a separatist conflict in two other eastern regions that has cost the lives of some 10,000 people in over three years.
Russia insists it has not sent troops and weapons to fight in Ukraine despite overwhelming evidence that Moscow has essentially been involved in an undeclared war.


Philippines gives Australian nun 30 days to leave country

Updated 5 min 31 sec ago
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Philippines gives Australian nun 30 days to leave country

CANBERRA, Australia: The Philippines on Wednesday canceled an Australian nun’s missionary visa for engaging in political activity and gave her 30 days to leave the country, though she said she still hoped she could explain her mission and have the decision reconsidered.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte had ordered an investigation into 71-year-old Sister Patricia Fox as an “undesirable” foreigner.
The Bureau of Immigration’s board of commissioners had canceled Fox’s visa and ordered her to leave due to “her involvement in partisan political activities,” Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said in a statement.
“She (Fox) was found to have engaged in activities that are not allowed under the terms and conditions of her visa,” Morente said.
Fox’s visa “granted her only the privilege to engage in missionary work and not in political activities,” he added.
Fox is a coordinator of a Philippine congregation of Roman Catholic nuns called Notre Dame de Sion and has lived in the Philippines for almost 30 years.
Fox said she was surprised by the decision that she only heard of through the media.
“I was surprised as I had thought the process was that I would have 10 days to put in a counter affidavit to answer the charges,” Fox said in a statement.
“I am very sad that the decision at present is that I leave the Philippines,” she added.
She still held out hope that the authorities would change their minds.
“As a Christian, believing that our mission is to bring God’s Kingdom to the here and now, I couldn’t help but to get involved both with projects, such as training in organic farming, to uplift the livelihood of the farmers, but also to advocate with them for their rights to land, livelihood, peace, justice and security, all universal human rights which the church sees as integral to her mission,” Fox said.
“It seems this is what has brought me into conflict with the Philippine government,” Fox added. “I am still hoping for a chance to explain how I see my mission as a religious sister and maybe the decision can be reconsidered.”
She said on Monday that she was taken from her house last week and detained at the Bureau of Immigration in Manila for almost 24 hours.
“They ordered an investigation for disorderly conduct. I was laughing, saying I have a disorderly room, but I don’t know about disorderly conduct,” Fox told Australian Broadcasting Corp.
“For me, it is part of my mission as a Catholic sister to stand beside those whose human rights have been violated, who are asking for help,” she added.
Fox had taken part in rallies demanding the release of political prisoners and urging Philippine authorities to respect human rights.