Australian politicians and the public have reacted angrily to video footage of Russian-backed rebels rifling through victims’ belongings after MH17 was brought down.
The footage, filmed by the rebels and obtained by News Corp, was aired on the first anniversary of the tragedy in which 298 crew and passengers died, including 38 Australians. It comes as the families of the Australian victims gather in Canberra for a national memorial service.
The video shows insurgents at the burning wreckage of the Malaysian Airlines flight expressing shock that they had shot down a civilian aircraft and ransacking the luggage of the dead passengers, including the backpack of an Australian victim.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the footage was “sickening to watch”.
“It is certainly consistent with the intelligence advice we received 12 months ago that [MH17] had been shot down by a surface-to-air missile in eastern Ukraine,” she told Channel 9 this morning. “[The victims’ families’] grief is inconsolable and the burden of grieving and then seeing this footage will be almost too much to bear.”
Ms Bishop said Australia was among five countries calling on the United Nations Security Council to establish an independent war crimes tribunal to prosecute those responsible.
An MH17 timeline by The Newsroom:
July 17, 2014
- MH17 departs Amsterdam for Kuala Lumpur at 12.15pm and loses contact over Eastern Ukraine at 2.15pm.
- Photographs emerge of the wreckage of the plane, located near Grobovo village, in rebel-controlled territory close to the Russian border.
- Pro-Russian separatists are accused of using a surface-to-air missile to shoot down the plane.
July 18, 2014
- A recording surfaces of a phone conversation between rebel fighters and a Russian agent which appears to show separatists are lying when they deny shooting down the plane.
- A ceasefire is called to allow a search for bodies and an investigation into what brought MH17 down.
- Calls are made to bar Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to attend the G20 summit to be held in November.
July 19, 2014
- Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott asks Mr Putin to guarantee access to the crash site, which is is pro-Russian separatist hands.
- Ms Bishop goes to the US to lobby UN delegates for an investigation.
- Evidence surfaces that bodies were moved and luggage and evidence tampered with. The Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai says the integrity of the site has been compromised, and there are indications that vital evidence has not been preserved in place.
July 20, 2014
- The names of the passengers are released.
- Australia continues to push for access to the crash site.
- International monitors scan the field surrounding the crash site uncover new evidence and find missing bodies.
July 21, 2014
- Mr Abbott launches “Operation Bring Them Home” to recover and identify the MH17 crash victims. Coordinated by former Australian Defence Force chief Angus Houston, it includes forensic specialists, federal police and air disaster investigators, as well as consular officials. The Australian Government sends a C-17 military transport aircraft to The Netherlands to help bring the bodies home.
- The UN Security Council meets in New York and passes an Australian resolution to condemn the downing of the jet.
- Kiev halts military operations around the crash site.
July 22, 2014
- Mr Putin vows to do “everything in [his] power” to influence pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine to assist with the MH17 crash probe and ensure a “full, comprehensive, deep, and transparent” investigation.
- US intelligence officials suggest ill-trained separatists may have been shot MH17 down by “mistake”.
- Mr Abbott refers to interference at the MH17 crash site as “evidence-tampering on an industrial scale”.
- Hundreds of people attend a candlelight vigil for MH17 victims at the Melbourne AIDS summit at Federation Square. Six HIV researchers and lobbyists due at the conference died in the incident.
- Pro-Russian rebel leader Alexander Borodai hands over the plane’s two black boxes to Malaysian experts in the eastern Ukraine city of Donetsk. They announce a ceasefire around the crash site.
- A refrigerated train carrying the remains arrives in the government-controlled city of Kharkiv carrying only 200 bodies, leaving almost 100 unaccounted for.
July 23, 2014
- An international investigation begins. The Australian delegation headed by Angus Houston includes Australian Federal Police and Defence Force personnel.
July 24, 2014
- Bodies of some of the Australian victims are flown to The Netherlands and met by Ms Bishop and the Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove.
August 7, 2014
- Australia holds a national day of mourning and flags are flown at half-mast across the country to remember the victims while a service is held at Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral for victims’ families and friends.
September 9, 2014
- The preliminary accident report is released by the Security Council of the Netherlands, finding there was nothing wrong with the plane.
October 13, 2014
- Mr Abbott threatens to “shirtfront” Mr Putin when he attends the G20 summit in Brisbane in November.
November 17, 2014
- Mr Putin leaves the G20 summit early.
- Transport of the plane wreckage begins for it to be investigated.
March 7, 2015
- Families of the victims visit the crash site and a site is set up so the families can leave flowers.
July 15, 2015
- A national memorial service is held in Canberra. The countries of the victims involved in the crash call to the UN to set up a tribunal to investigate and prosecute the individuals who crashed the plane.
- Foreign ministers call on the UN to establish a criminal tribunal to prosecute those responsible.
- The UN Security Council is urged to set up an independent tribunal to try those responsible for crimes connected to the tragedy.
– Timeline compiled by news sources by The Newsroom team
Top photo from harry_nl’s Flickr photostream.