World / Asia-Pacific

Australian gov't commits to a nine-month extension to MH17 investigation

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-11-13 10:38

CANBERRA -- Investigations into the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 will be extended for a further nine months, with the Australian government confirming on Thursday it would remain in Ukraine for as long as it took to complete the task.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan announced Australia's renewed commitment to the investigation in a statement released on Thursday, saying the government was "determined to work for as long as is required to bring those responsible to justice".

Member countries of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), including Malaysia, the Netherlands, Belgium and Ukraine, as well as Australia, agreed upon a nine-month extension of investigations, taking the process through until August 2015.

Australia currently has 35 Federal Police (AFP) members in eastern Ukraine, assisting investigations into the disaster that killed all 298 passengers and crew on board, including 38 Australians.

However, AFP personnel are among those finding the process of investigating the catastrophe slow going due to the continuing conflict in eastern Ukraine between Kiev and Moscow.

"Australia is committed to returning to the crash site," Keenan said. "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."

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