Services held to mark MH17 disaster anniversary | The Daily Star
01:06 PM, July 17, 2015 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:48 PM, July 17, 2015

Services held to mark MH17 disaster anniversary

Memorial services are being held to mark the first anniversary of the MH17 air disaster, in which 298 people died.

Villagers close to the crash site in Ukraine are holding a ceremony, as will the Netherlands from where most of the passengers were from.

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Australia has already held its memorial for the 39 citizens it lost.

Russian-backed rebels are widely believed to have shot down the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 as it flew from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

Moscow denies this, blaming Ukrainian government forces for the disaster in the eastern Donetsk region.

Australia's national memorial service was held in Parliament House in Canberra. A plaque with the names of the victims was unveiled in the gardens - it was set in soil brought back from Ukraine by an Australian police officer.

Speaking inside the Great Hall, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Australians owed it to the dead to bring the guilty to justice.

"Their passing leaves a void that can never be filled and a pain that still throbs," he said.

Mr Abbott said he was humbled by the way the families and friends of the people killed on the flight had coped.

"In the worst of times you have displayed the strength of giants and the grace of angels," he said.

Those who attended the service pinned sprigs of Australia's national floral emblem, wattle, on a large wreath.

After the memorial, Mr Abbott met victims' families and friends.

A memorial stone has been unveiled in Grabove, the village closest to the crash site in Ukraine, ahead of its memorial service.

And in the Dutch city of Nieuwegein later, the names of all the country's 193 victims will be read aloud by their family members.

In Malaysia, a memorial service was held in Kuala Lumpur on 11 July - because the anniversary of the disaster comes at the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which is traditionally a holiday.

Each victim was named and then honoured with a moment of silence.

'Politicised coverage'

On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin rejected calls by the UK, Australia, the Netherlands, Malaysia and Ukraine to establish a UN tribunal to prosecute suspects.

The Kremlin said in a statement that Mr Putin had "explained Russia's position regarding the premature and counter-productive initiatives of several countries, including the Netherlands, on the establishment of an international tribunal".

It also criticised what it said was politicised media coverage of the disaster.

A final report on the cause of the crash is due to be released in October by the Dutch Safety Board. The Netherlands is leading the criminal investigation and is being assisted by Belgium, Australia and Ukraine.

The Malaysia Airlines' passenger list showed flight MH17 was carrying 193 Dutch nationals (including one with dual US nationality), 43 Malaysians (including 15 crew), 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians and 10 Britons (including one with dual South African citizenship).

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