Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Looks less like accident than crime: Australia PM Abbott

SYDNEY (AFP) - The Malaysia Airlines crash in Ukraine looked less like an accident than a crime, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Friday, as he urged Russia to cooperate with an investigation into the incident.

The airliner carrying 298 people came down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine on Thursday, and US officials said it appeared to have been shot down by a surface-to-air missile.

Abbott said he owed it to the families of those onboard, including 27 Australians, to find out exactly what happened to the plane which was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

"As things stand, this looks less like an accident than a crime," he told parliament.

"And if so, the perpetrators must be brought to justice," he added to cries of "hear, hear".

Abbott said Australia would as quickly as possible work for a binding resolution at the United Nations Security Council calling for a full and impartial investigation.

This would require full access to the site, the debris, the black box and "all individuals who might be in a position to shed light on this terrible event", he said.

"The minister for foreign affairs will shortly summon the Russian ambassador to seek a categoric assurance from the ambassador that the Russian government will fully cooperate in this investigation," he said.

Abbott said a department of foreign affairs team would be departing soon for Kiev, and bodies would be repatriated as soon as possible while support would be offered to families.

"We can and will do everything we can to support them in this sad and bitter time," he said.

"The bullying of small countries by big ones, the trampling of justice and decency in the pursuit of national aggrandisement, and reckless indifference to human life should have no place in our world," he added.

Australia is leading the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 which is thought to have crashed into the Indian Ocean on March 8. No sign of the jet carrying 239 people has yet been found.

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