SEPANG • Families of those killed when Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine last year demanded justice at an emotional memorial ceremony yesterday, ahead of the first anniversary of the disaster.
The sombre service at Kuala Lumpur International Airport was attended by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, and relatives of those who died used the opportunity to air their frustrations over the handling of the tragedy.
"We want to find out who shot down the plane. We must find out," said Ms Ivy Loi, whose husband, Captain Eugene Choo, was one of the pilots on the flight.
Ms Loi, who was greeted by many MAS employees at the event, attended the service with her two sons and relatives. "We are just trying to cope," she added.
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. All 298 passengers and crew - the majority of them Dutch - died.
PLEA FOR CLOSURE
We want to find out who shot down the plane. We must find out.
MS IVY LOI, whose husband, Captain Eugene Choo, was one of the pilots on MAS Flight MH17
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 at Ukraine's military.
Speaking at the memorial, Datuk Seri Najib said the international criminal probe into the downing of the plane was ongoing and could be completed by the end of the year.
The memorial was held yesterday rather than on July 17, which is Hari Raya Aidilfitri, a time of joyful family gatherings. The timing of the anniversary is, therefore, especially painful for Muslim-majority Malaysia.
"It's Ramadan and we feel the sadness," said Mr Shahadat Bey, whose aunt died in the crash.
"Everyone is just pointing fingers, but it's very important that we get some closure and justice because everybody needs to know what happened,"he added.
Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai insisted that the government was doing all it could. "Malaysia is single-minded in making sure we find out who the people responsible for this tragedy are," he said.
Malaysia is working with Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands and Ukraine - all member countries of the joint investigation team - on setting up the tribunal. Malaysian Ambassador Ramlan Ibrahim told the 15-member United Nations Security Council this month that a UN court would "provide the highest degree of legitimacy for the trial". However, Russia said on Thursday it would oppose the resolution.