MH17 victims’ families mark fifth anniversary of downing

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This file photo taken on September 9, 2014 shows part of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 at the crash site in the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), some 80km east of Donetsk. International investigators on June 19, 2019 charged four people with murder over the 2014 shooting down of flight MH17 above rebel-held eastern Ukraine in which 298 people were killed. AFP

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Family members of those aboard the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 called on Wednesday for those responsible to be brought to justice, as they marked the fifth anniversary of the tragedy.

Flight MH17 was shot down on July 17, 2014, over territory held by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

International investigators last month identified four suspects they believed were responsible for bringing a Russian-made missile into the area aimed at shooting down aircraft.

The suspects, three Russians and one Ukrainian, will face murder charges for the deaths of all 298 people aboard the flight, the Dutch-led international team said. Russia has denied any involvement.

Nur Diyana Yazeera, whose mother Dora Shahila Kassim was a member of the MH17 crew, said she hoped that authorities would continue to seek justice for the families.

“We wouldn’t have found these four suspects who were allegedly culpable for this incident if we didn’t keep moving forward,” she said during a memorial ceremony in Kuala Lumpur.

The ceremony, organized by the Australian and Dutch embassies in Malaysia, observed a minute of silence at 9.20 p.m. (0120 GMT), marking the time the aircraft was downed.

Patrick Sivagnanam, who lost three family members in the tragedy, urged the Malaysian government to keep families updated on developments, amid conflicting statements made by authorities on the international probe.

“Everybody is entitled to their opinion and that’s fine,” he told reporters after the ceremony.

“All we ask is that you come to us and present to us (your findings)… and then perhaps we can make an informed decision.”

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad last month questioned the objectivity of investigators, saying that Russia was being made a scapegoat for the downing of the aircraft.

Mahathir’s comments put him at odds with Malaysian representatives on the joint investigation team who said they supported the team’s findings.

On Wednesday, Malaysia said it would continue to work with the team to pursue those responsible.

“Without a doubt, every family and the next of kin who are affected by this tragedy deserve to see justice,” the transport ministry said in a statement.

In Kiev, Ukraine said on Wednesday a rebel who organized the trailer carrying the missile that shot down MH17 had been captured two years ago and was now serving a sentence in Ukraine.

Vitaly Mayakov, an official of Ukraine’s SBU security service, said the rebel who organized the trailer that brought the missile into Ukraine had been caught two years ago and was now serving a sentence in Ukraine.

“We determined whom this trailer belongs to. We identified the individual from among the fighters who picked it up from the trucking company in Donetsk,” Mayakov told a news conference.

“And three years later we managed to detain this person while he was crossing the border from the Russian Federation to the government-controlled territory, unaware of the fact that we suspected him. He is now serving a sentence here, in Ukraine.”

He did not identify the individual or explain why this information was not announced earlier.

Mayakov said that more than 150 people involved in transporting the missile launcher to and from Ukraine had been identified.

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