MH17: M’sian govt to spend RM23.32mil on Dutch trial, Dr Wee tells Parliament

The Malaysian government will spend RM23.32mil on the Dutch trial involving the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, says Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

"The trial is currently ongoing and the RM23.32mil is 30% of the trial cost which the government will bear next year to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice," he said when winding up his ministerial replies on Budget 2021 at the Dewan Rakyat on Monday. (Dec 7)

He added the trial comes after the conclusion of the Dutch Safety Board's initial probe and the subsequent criminal investigations by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT).

Dr Wee said the allocation will cover both lawyers’ fees and court costs.

"The country has a responsibility as it involved the downing of a Malaysian aircraft whose perpetrators must be punished," he added.

MH17 was said to have been shot down by a BUK missile over the conflict-hit eastern Ukraine while flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17,2014.

All 298 people on board, comprising 43 Malaysians, 193 Dutch nationals and 27 Australians, were killed.

Criminal charges were brought against four defendants in the District Court of The Hague at the Schiphol Judicial Complex (JCS) in Badhoevedorp, Netherlands in March this year for allegedly shooting down MH17.

The four were Russians Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy and Oleg Pulatov as well as Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko.

In September this year, the Dutch government announced that it plans to take Russia to the European Court of Human Rights over the downing of MH17.

On a separate issue, Dr Wee said that Penang's ageing ferry service would be replaced with catamarans.

"The ferries are about 47-years-old and it's difficult to find replacement spare-parts. That is why we will be using catamarans," he said.

He reminded lawmakers that former Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng had agreed in 2019 to replace the existing ferries with catamarans.

On the exclusion of cars on the proposed catamaran service, Dr Wee said only 200,000 passengers with cars out of the 1.5mil passengers a year used the ferry service.

He added that Penang has two bridges and this provided an avenue for those with cars to travel to the island.

The last working Penang ferry suffered an engine breakdown in August this year, prompting a temporary suspension of the ferry service.