UN Vows to Bring MH17 Crash Perpetrators to Justice; Downing of Plane a 'War Crime'

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By Reissa Su | July 29, 2014 12:54 PM EST

The fatal downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in Ukraine has been called a possible "war crime." According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, the act of shooting down a passenger aircraft is a "violation of international law" and declared every effort will be made to bring the perpetrators to justice "no matter who they are."

REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev
An imprint of where a body used to lie on the ground is seen at a crash site of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), Donetsk region July 21, 2014. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev

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Pillay delivered the latest UN report on the conflict in Ukraine and said at least 1,129 people have died and 3,442 injured since the fighting began in mid-April. More than 200,000 people were displaced due to the violent fighting. Most have already fled to seek refuge in neighbouring Russia.

Reports said pro-Russian separatists and Ukraine rebels have accused each other of shooting the surface-to-air missile that brought down MH17. A Ukrainian official has revealed on July 28 that the Malaysian jet suffered a "massive explosive decompression" due to a rocket. The data was taken from the MH17's black box or data recorders.

UK aviation experts are currently examining the two black boxes recovered from the MH17 wreckage.

Pillay said the UN has condemned the "horrendous" act of shooting down MH17 that killed 298 people on board and demanded a thorough, independent and impartial investigation.

The Red Cross has previously declared Ukraine in a state of civil war. According to reports, this would make parties involved in the conflict "liable to prosecution" when war crimes are committed.

Pillay cited reports of intense fighting between rebel forces in Donetsk and Lugansk have become "extremely alarming." Both parties in the Ukraine conflict use heavy weapons including tanks, missiles and rockets in combat.

The UN Human Rights chief appealed to both sides to prevent civilian deaths and injuries.

Meanwhile, a group of Australian and Dutch police including forensic experts have abandoned their attempts of reaching the MH17 crash site due to high risk security situation. The attempt on July 28 has been the second time the team has failed to reach the site.

Alexander Hug, an official from the OSCE mission to Ukraine, said his team was "sick and tired" of being interrupted by  gunfights especially at a time when a ceasefire was supposed to be in place.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev / )
An imprint of where a body used to lie on the ground is seen at a crash site of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), Donetsk region July 21, 2014. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev
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