The scenarios surrounding the downing of MH17 is similar to the situations involving the passenger jet, Iran Air Flight 655, which was shot down by US in 1988.
On July 3, 1988, a US navy captain in command of an Aegis-class cruiser, the Vincennes, had mistakenly shot down Iran Air Flight 655. The mistake was acknowledged by then US President Bill Clinton in 1996 as he expressed his "deep regret" and allotted $131.8 million in compensation to the Iranian government. The victim's families received $61.8 million from the compensation. Tehran then dropped its case against US in the International Court of Justice.
"In several ways, the two calamities are similar," writing for the Slate, Fred Kaplan highlighted.
He underlined similarities such as:
- MH17 was travelling above eastern Ukraine, near the Russian border, where there is an on-going civil war; Iran Air Flight 655 was flying along the Strait of Hormuz where there was an on-going naval conflict.
- There had been speculations that a pro-Russian rebel mistook MH17 as a Ukrainian military-transport plane; US Navy Captain, Will Rogers, mistook Iran Air Flight 655 as an F-14 fighter jet.
- MH17 was downed by a Russian SA-11 surface-to-air missile, 298 passengers were killed, 80 were children; Iran Air Flight 655 was downed by an American SM-2 surface-to-air missile, 290 passengers were killed, 66 were children.
- Russian officials are blaming the Ukrainian government for MH17; American officials blamed the Iranian pilot.
For whoever is responsible for the downing of MH17, Kaplan thinks that they should answer to the crime but should not be branded as terrorists or war criminals. As he said, "there's a distinction between ghastly mistakes of war and monstrous acts of terrorism."
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, together with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, vowed to give justice to the grieving families of passengers aboard MH17.
"We owe it to the dead, we owe it to the grieving families to bring them home and to give them justice," Mr Abbott said at a press conference in The Hague.
Mr Abbott also told Mr Rutte that Australia and Netherlands "are not just partners in grief, but partners in demanding justice in the face of this terrible atrocity."