July 17, 2019 / 5:11 PM / 2 months ago

Five years on, flight MH17 families call for justice

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Family members of those aboard the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 called on Wednesday for those responsible to be brought to justice, as they marked the fifth anniversary of the tragedy.

A family member reacts during a commemoration ceremony in memory of the victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 plane crash on the fifth anniversary of the accident, at the Australian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, July 17, 2019. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng

Flight MH17 was shot down on July 17, 2014, over territory held by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

International investigators last month identified four suspects they believed were responsible for bringing a Russian-made missile into the area aimed at shooting down aircraft.

The suspects, three Russians and one Ukrainian, will face murder charges for the deaths of all 298 people aboard the flight, the Dutch-led international team said. Russia has denied any involvement.

Nur Diyana Yazeera, whose mother Dora Shahila Kassim was a member of the MH17 crew, said she hoped that authorities would continue to seek justice for the families.

“We wouldn’t have found these four suspects who were allegedly culpable for this incident if we didn’t keep moving forward,” she said during a memorial ceremony in Kuala Lumpur.

The ceremony, organized by the Australian and Dutch embassies in Malaysia, observed a minute of silence at 9.20 p.m. (0120 GMT), marking the time the aircraft was downed.

Patrick Sivagnanam, who lost three family members in the tragedy, urged the Malaysian government to keep families updated on developments, amid conflicting statements made by authorities on the international probe.

“Everybody is entitled to their opinion and that’s fine,” he told reporters after the ceremony.

“All we ask is that you come to us and present to us (your findings)... and then perhaps we can make an informed decision.”

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad last month questioned the objectivity of investigators, saying that Russia was being made a scapegoat for the downing of the aircraft.

Mahathir’s comments put him at odds with Malaysian representatives on the joint investigation team who said they supported the team’s findings.

On Wednesday, Malaysia said it would continue to work with the team to pursue those responsible.

“Without a doubt, every family and the next of kin who are affected by this tragedy deserve to see justice,” the transport ministry said in a statement.

Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Gareth Jones

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