MH17 families demand justice ahead of first anniversary of tragedy

Family members of MH17 victims attending a memorial service to mark the first anniversary of the tragedy.
Family members of MH17 victims attending a memorial service to mark the first anniversary of the tragedy.PHOTO: AFP

SEPANG, Malaysia (AFP) - Families of those killed when Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine last year demanded justice on Saturday at an emotional memorial ceremony ahead of the first anniversary of the disaster.

The sombre memorial service at Kuala Lumpur International Airport was attended by Prime Minister Najib Razak, and relatives of those who died used the opportunity to air their continued frustrations over the handling of the tragedy.

"We want to find out who shot down the plane. We must find out," said Ivy Loi, whose husband Captain Eugene Choo was one of the pilots on board the flight.

Loi, who was greeted by many MAS employees at the event, attended the service with her two sons and relatives.


"We're just trying to cope," she added as she wiped away tears.

Rita Phang, 62, lost her cousin when the plane was downed.

"I know it's almost a year, but we still feel sad, even though we know we have to accept the way things are," she said. "But action needs to be taken. I want justice to be served."

The event saw grieving families observe a minute's silence. Many cried and became emotional when the names of the passengers scrolled across screens in tribute to the dead.

The Boeing 777 passenger jet was travelling between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down in eastern Ukraine on July 17, during some of the worst fighting between government forces and pro-Russian separatists who took up arms against Kiev's pro-Western government a few months earlier.

All 298 passengers and crew on board the Malaysia Airlines jetliner - the majority of them Dutch - died.

Suspicions immediately fell on the separatists, who may have used a surface-to-air missile supplied by Russia to shoot down the plane.

But Moscow flatly denied it was involved and pointed the finger instead at Ukraine's military.

Speaking at the memorial, Najib said the international criminal probe into the downing of the plane was ongoing and could be completed by the end of the year.

"Detailed investigations are still continuing.. and they are expected to be finished by the end of 2015 at least," he said.