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Video Shows Separatists Arriving at MH17 Crash Scene — One Year Ago Today

The disturbing footage shows pro-Russia fighters who seem to be searching for a pilot who had been flying a Ukrainian jet, but become confused when they encounter the debris of the large civilian aircraft.
Imagen vía VICE News

On July 17, 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine while carrying 298 people. Today, a disturbing video emerged that casts more light onto conflicting accounts of the aviation disaster.

The footage shows fighters arriving on the crash scene, discussing what had happened, and rummaging through the luggage of the passengers and crew who had been killed.

The pro-Russia fighters seem to be searching for a pilot who had been flying a Ukrainian jet, but become confused when they encounter the debris of the large civilian aircraft.


After the group identify the aircraft as Malaysian, a background voice asks, "Who gave them the corridor [right to fly through this area]?"

News Corp Australia claim the full-length video as an exclusive after a months-long investigation of the crash, while some elements of the film have previously been aired by the BBC.

This release came as residents of Ukrainian village Hrabove, close to the crash site, marked the day by joining a procession to the fields where the jet came down, killing everyone on board.

This included 193 people from the Netherlands, 43 from Malaysia — including all crew members — and 27 from Australia. The other victims were citizens of Indonesia, the UK, Germany, Belgium, the Philippines, Canada, and New Zealand

In the Netherlands, hundreds of relatives of those killed on MH17 were gathering Friday afternoon at a conference center near the central city of Utrecht, an event organized by the relatives themselves. It was planned to feature music, dance, and the reading out of the names of all 298 victims.

Also today, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott remembered the "savagery" of the disaster as he unveiled a plaque in Canberra that is set in soil taken from where the wreckage fell.

Related: UN Security Council Members Seek Tribunal to Prosecute Whoever Shot Down MH17

Abbott and his wife laid a wreath at the base of the plaque. Dozens of family members of the victims followed, many in tears as they added their flowers alongside the wreath. Some kissed the bouquets before they placed them, others kissed their fingers and pressed them against the plaque.


Flags on government buildings around the country hardest hit in the disaster were flying at half-staff throughout the day.

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

Russia, which holds a veto on the Security Council, opposes setting up a tribunal. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said that setting up a tribunal would not make sense while the investigation continued.

Watch the VICE News documentary, Exclusive Footage of MH17 Aftermath: Russian Roulette (Dispatch 60) here:

The commemoration ceremonies come amid continuing over who was responsible for downing the plane, which was heading from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

Ukrainian and Western authorities say the plane was downed by a missile fired by pro-Russia rebels, while the rebels and Moscow claim it was hit by a Ukrainian warplane or a Ukrainian-fired missile.

Speaking in Kiev late on Thursday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said the flight was the victim of a "terrorist attack launched from the territory occupied by Russian-backed militants in the east of Ukraine."

"The advanced weapon with which [the] aircraft was shot down could have come to the hands of terrorists only from Russia," he said in a late-night address on local television. "It would not have happened without the participation and an order from top political and military leaders of the neighboring state."


Related: In Photos: MH17 Plane Wreckage Displayed for Relatives of Victims

At the ceremony in Hrabrove, however, rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko, who arrived at the event on crutches, accused the Ukrainian government of taking down MH17.

"Any death is a tragedy, all the more so when civilians die," he said, surrounded by a group of gunmen, adding that the rebels did their best to help the investigators and families of the victims.

"We are still willing to help those people who will in the end uncover the truth and make sure that criminal illegal authorities of Ukraine who allowed this tragedy to happen will be punished."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Watch the VICE News documentary, Return to the MH17 Crash Site: Russian Roulette (Dispatch 87) here: