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17th Feb 2019

'Sickening' MH17 footage released on remembrance day

  • Children with flags of the self-proclaimed republic of Donetsk, during a rehearsal of a MH17 commemoration service. (Photo: Jeroen Akkermans)

New video footage emerged on Thursday (16 July) of the crash site of flight MH17 in east Ukraine, one year after the passenger plane was shot down.

Australian media company News Corp first published the footage, saying it was filmed by pro-Russian forces, shortly after the Malaysian Airlines plane crashed on 17 July 2014, killing its 298 passengers and crew.

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  • Commemorative plaque in the area where MH17 crashed. (Photo: Jeroen Akkermans)

The video, whose authenticity this website could not independently verify, showed uniformed men searching through backpacks in an apparent attempt to find out who was on the plane. They reportedly speak Ukrainian and Russian.

A transcript, published by News.com.au, showed the men encounter bodies, documents, and the plane’s black box. One of them also gives instructions on the phone, saying “keep the perimeter, don’t let the civilians in”.

“It’s a civilian, it’s some civilian … You see, they are foreigners, Malaysians”, another one says.

Australia's foreign minister Julie Bishop said the video “is certainly consistent with the intelligence advice that we received 12 months ago that Malaysian Airlines MH17 had been shot down by a surface-to-air missile in eastern Ukraine”.

She added that it is “sickening” to watch, and “deeply concerning” that the video emerged exactly one year since the crash.

Commemorations of the victims of the disaster started on Friday in Australia, where 38 of the dead were from.

Australian prime minister Tony Abbott said the victims “deserved to be welcomed home, not shot out of the sky in a war of aggression by one country against a smaller neighbour”.

He added “we owe it to the dead to bring the guilty to justice”.

The investigation into the cause of the crash is still ongoing, with a final report from the Dutch Safety Board, which has taken the lead, expected in October. Two-thirds of the victims were Dutch.

Justice

Another contentious issue is how the perpetrators can be brought to justice.

On Friday, the United Kingdom rallied behind the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, and Ukraine, in a call for an international tribunal.

However, Russia, which has a veto power in the UN Security Council, has repeatedly said it is against such a UN court.

“The United Nations Security Council has got nothing to do with it. No tribunals have ever been set up to investigate passenger plane crashes”, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday.

US foreign minister John Kerry said the same day the US is strongly committed “to see those responsible are held accountable”.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Friday “the EU and its member states fully support the ongoing efforts to establish a binding and credible prosecution mechanism”.

On Friday, several dozen people also attended a church ceremony in Grabovo in east Ukraine, to commemorate the disaster.

On Thursday, Dutch media reported that armed pro-Russian rebels spent several hours in and around the area of the crash. During a rehearsal of the MH17 commemoration in Donetsk, a Russian-occupied town, several children waved the flag of the self-proclaimed republic.

Most of the Dutch family and friends of the victims will take part in commemmoration services in the Netherlands.

Opinion

MH17 and the diplomacy of business going Dutch

The shooting down of the Malaysian Airlines flight reinforces the point that the security of citizens outside state borders is to be framed as a central issue in 21st century security policy.

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