Australia ‘sickened’ as new MH17 footage emerges
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop Friday said she was 'sickened' after new footage emerged allegedly of Russian-backed rebels ransacking the luggage of passengers killed after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine.
The video was obtained by Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and published on the one-year anniversary of the plane being blown out of the sky during a routine flight between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur on July 17 last year.
All 298 passengers and crew on board the Boeing 777 were killed, the majority of them Dutch, but with 38 Australian citizens and residents among them.
“It is sickening to watch and 12 months on from the downing of MH17 it is deeply concerning that this footage has emerged now,” Bishop told the Nine Network, without being able to verify the authenticity of the video.
“It is certainly consistent with the intelligence advice that we received 12 months ago, that Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 had been shot down by a surface-to-air missile,” she added.
The newspaper claimed the footage, which it said was smuggled out of the fighters’ Donetsk base and only obtained this week, was filmed by the rebels themselves as they captured what they initially believed to be a Ukrainian air force fighter jet they had shot down.
It said the film, released as a memorial service was held in Canberra to mark the anniversary, records their dismay as they discover the aircraft was a commercial plane.
But it also shows men, holding guns and dressed in army camouflage, wandering among the downed plane’s wreckage, rifling through bags and scattering their contents on the ground.
The newspaper said that in one frame a man wore a clearly visible identification tag from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic around his neck.
The plane was shot down during a bout of heavy fighting last year between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists, sparking global condemnation.
Kiev and the West point the finger at the separatists, saying they may have used a BUK surface-to-air missile supplied by Russia. But Moscow denies involvement and instead accuses Ukraine’s military.
A criminal probe by a joint investigation team consisting of Australian, Belgian, Dutch, Malaysian and Ukrainian detectives is currently underway.
The five countries have also asked the United Nations Security Council to establish an international criminal tribunal to try those responsible for crimes connected to the plane’s downing.
Britain, one of the permanent members of the Security Council, backed the move on Friday.