Video shows pro-Russian rebels ‘sifting through MH17 wreckage’

On anniversary of crash, new footage apparently shows men at scene in state of confusion

This screen grab image taken from a handout video released by News Corp Australia allegedly shows wreckage smoldering at the site of downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 shortly after it crashed near the village of Grabove, some 80km east of Donetsk on July 17, 2014. Photograph: AFP Photo/News Corp Australia/Getty Images.

This screen grab image taken from a handout video released by News Corp Australia allegedly shows wreckage smoldering at the site of downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 shortly after it crashed near the village of Grabove, some 80km east of Donetsk on July 17, 2014. Photograph: AFP Photo/News Corp Australia/Getty Images.

 

A newly released video from the immediate aftermath of the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 shows pro-Russian separatists rummaging through the luggage of dead passengers while apparently in a state of confusion.

One man dressed in camouflage, speaking a mixture of Russian and Ukrainian, asks where the remains of a military Sukhoi bomber is.

“There it is, it is the passenger plane,” another responds.

The 17-minute footage released by News Corp Australia was published on Friday, exactly 12 months after MH17 was shot out of the sky with what is believed to be a surface-to-air missile.

The distressing and graphic footage of militiamen trampling over the charred wreckage site could prove essential to investigations into the crash, clearly identifying armed men on the scene.

They open the backpacks of dead travellers, haphazardly discarding folded clothes on the ground. All 298 people on the Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur flight died.

A man in black boots and fatigues films as he tours the area while smoke still rises and small fires burn amid the metal corpse of the passenger plane.

“Keep the perimeter. Don’t let civilians get through,” he says.

“Malaysia,” he says as he films the wreckage. “Who gave them the corridor?”, he adds, apparently referring to the flightpath above the war zone.

Video:

“Is it orange?” another man asks, talking about the plane’s flight recorders, which are painted orange to make them easier to find.

Suitcases and bodies lie on the ground. A red fire truck is shown briefly next to a van and a white car. One man extinguishes flames with a hose.

A militiaman opens a large backpack. “These are clothes,” he says as he pulls out folded jeans and shirts. Other men pick up documents and luggage. “A battery,” he says as men rifle further. “Some device and the charger from it.”

“Fuck. Passenger plane was fucked,” a voice off screen says later. At one point the man filming shows the ID card with “KLIA” written on it, apparently the access card for flight crew at Kuala Lumpur international airport.

Another blood-stained backpack shows a luggage tag with “Australian” written on it.

Disturbing footage

The Australian foreign minister, Julie Bishop, said she was disturbed by the footage , though authorities had not been able to verify its authenticity.

“It is sickening to watch and 12 months on from the downing of MH17 it is deeply concerning that this footage has emerged now,” she told the Nine Network. Thirty-eight Australian citizens or residents died in the crash.

The Netherlands, Malaysia, the UK and Australia this month sought the creation of a UN tribunal to prosecute suspects.

“Justice must be delivered for the 298 innocent people who lost their lives,” Philip Hammond, the UK foreign secretary, said on Friday. Ten Britons died in the tragedy.

“That requires an international tribunal, backed by a resolution binding all UN member states, to prosecute those responsible.”

Russian president Vladimir Putin argued on Thursday against the “prematureness and counterproductiveness” of creating a tribunal, according to a Kremlin statement.

A leaked draft of the findings of the Dutch Safety Board, which is leading the MH17 investigation, blames a surface-to-air missile fired from a village under the control of Russian-backed separatists. The report will be finalised in October.

More than 6,000 people have been killed in the conflict in Ukraine, after fighting erupted in the country’s east when the Moscow-backed president was ousted and Russian annexed Crimea.

Guardian Service