Friday 30 September 2016

Ceremonies held to commemorate one year anniversary of downing of MH17

Published 17/07/2015 | 08:01

An armed pro-Russian separatist stands on part of the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane after it crashed near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, in this July 17, 2014 file picture. Malaysia Airlines MH17 was shot down a year ago, on July 17, 2014 with 298 passengers on board, two-thirds of them Dutch. It crashed in Ukrainian territory held by Russian-backed separatists. Picture taken July 17, 2014. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev/Files
An armed pro-Russian separatist stands on part of the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane after it crashed near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, in this July 17, 2014 file picture. Malaysia Airlines MH17 was shot down a year ago, on July 17, 2014 with 298 passengers on board, two-thirds of them Dutch. It crashed in Ukrainian territory held by Russian-backed separatists. Picture taken July 17, 2014. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev/Files
An armed pro-Russian separatist takes pictures at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash, MH17, near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, in this July 17, 2014 file picture. Malaysia Airlines MH17 was shot down a year ago, on July 17, 2014 with 298 passengers on board, two-thirds of them Dutch. It crashed in Ukrainian territory held by Russian-backed separatists. Picture taken July 17, 2014. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev/Files
An Emergencies Ministry member walks at a site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, in this July 17, 2014 file picture. Malaysia Airlines MH17 was shot down a year ago, on July 17, 2014 with 298 passengers on board, two-thirds of them Dutch. It crashed in Ukrainian territory held by Russian-backed separatists. Picture taken July 17, 2014. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev/Files
TO GO WITH STORY Ukraine MH17 Memories - An employee of water station examines large piece of MH17 plane, which had not been taken away at the Malaysian Airlines MH-17 plane crash site toward Hrabove village, eastern Ukraine, on Tuesday, July 14, 2015. Memories of the downing of the Malaysian Airlines plane one year ago still haunt the residents of Hrabove, who remember the bodies that fell from the sky above their sleepy village in eastern Ukraine. (AP Photo/Mstyslav Chernov)
A relative of an Australian victim of Malaysia Airlines jet MH17 touches a memorial that was unveiled outside Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, July 17, 2015. Australia urged the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday to support the establishment of an international tribunal to prosecute those suspected of downing Malaysia Airlines jet MH17 in eastern Ukraine last year. REUTERS/David Gray
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott (C) and his wife Margaret watch as relatives of the Australian victims of Malaysia Airlines jet MH17 place floral tributes and touch a memorial that was unveiled outside Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, July 17, 2015. Australia urged the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday to support the establishment of an international tribunal to prosecute those suspected of downing Malaysia Airlines jet MH17 in eastern Ukraine last year. REUTERS/David Gray
Relatives of the Australian victims of Malaysia Airlines jet MH17 react during a service for the unveiling of a memorial outside Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, July 17, 2015. Australia urged the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday to support the establishment of an international tribunal to prosecute those suspected of downing Malaysia Airlines jet MH17 in eastern Ukraine last year. REUTERS/David Gray
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott (C) and his wife Margaret prepare to lay a wreath for the Australian victims of Malaysia Airlines jet MH17 at a ceremony unveiling a memorial outside Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, July 17, 2015. Australia urged the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday to support the establishment of an international tribunal to prosecute those suspected of downing Malaysia Airlines jet MH17 in eastern Ukraine last year. REUTERS/David Gray TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Residents of the Ukrainian village where a Malaysian airliner was shot down with 298 people on board a year ago began a procession to the crash site today, while the Australian prime minister remembered the "savagery" of the disaster by unveiling a plaque set in soil from the place the plane went down.

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The two ceremonies came amid an escalating war of words over who was responsible for destroying the plane.

Ukrainian and Western authorities say the plane was downed by a missile fired either by rebels or Russian troops who allegedly back them.

The rebels and Moscow say it was hit by a Ukrainian war plane or a Ukrainian-fired missile.

In Hrabove, villagers carrying flowers gathered in the church in the centre of the village at the start of a procession to the site in nearby fields. The commemoration, organised by local leaders and the Russia-backed separatist rebels who control the area, will include the dedication of a small stone with a plaque in the field.

The passengers included 38 Australian citizens and permanent residents who were among the 298 people on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was heading from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17 2014, when it was shot down.

A relative of an Australian victim of Malaysia Airlines jet MH17 touches a memorial that was unveiled outside Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, July 17, 2015. Australia urged the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday to support the establishment of an international tribunal to prosecute those suspected of downing Malaysia Airlines jet MH17 in eastern Ukraine last year. REUTERS/David Gray
A relative of an Australian victim of Malaysia Airlines jet MH17 touches a memorial that was unveiled outside Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, July 17, 2015. Australia urged the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday to support the establishment of an international tribunal to prosecute those suspected of downing Malaysia Airlines jet MH17 in eastern Ukraine last year. REUTERS/David Gray

In Canberra, Australian prime minister Tony Abbott unveiled a plaque inscribed with the names of Australian victims, which is set in soil that a police officer brought back from Ukraine.

"He knew that the place where MH17 came to rest was sacred and that a piece of it should come back to Australia," Mr Abbott said. "It was a humane and decent thing for him to know and do. It was a contrast to the savagery that brought down the plane."

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott (C) and his wife Margaret watch as relatives of the Australian victims of Malaysia Airlines jet MH17 place floral tributes and touch a memorial that was unveiled outside Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, July 17, 2015. Australia urged the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday to support the establishment of an international tribunal to prosecute those suspected of downing Malaysia Airlines jet MH17 in eastern Ukraine last year. REUTERS/David Gray
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott (C) and his wife Margaret watch as relatives of the Australian victims of Malaysia Airlines jet MH17 place floral tributes and touch a memorial that was unveiled outside Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, July 17, 2015. Australia urged the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday to support the establishment of an international tribunal to prosecute those suspected of downing Malaysia Airlines jet MH17 in eastern Ukraine last year. REUTERS/David Gray

Mr Abbott and his wife then lay a wreath at the base of the plaque. Dozens of family members of the victims followed, many in tears as they lay flowers alongside the wreath in honour of their loved ones. Some kissed the bouquets before they placed them down, while others kissed their fingers and pressed them against the plaque.

Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine have asked the United Nations Security Council to establish an international criminal tribunal to prosecute those responsible for shooting down the plane.

Russia, however, is opposing a proposed resolution to establish a tribunal for the crash, and has veto power in the Security Council.

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