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Families of MH17 victims attend national memorial

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Families of the 38 Australians tragically killed aboard flight MH17 have gathered on the first anniversary of the attack.

Tony Abbott attended the ceremony and unveiled a new plaque memorialising the victims.

The plaque was on set a foundation which included a bag of soil brought back from the site of the attack by an Australian police officer.

Julie Bishop arrives at the MI17 memorial
Julie Bishop arrives at the MH17 memorial site in Canberra on Thursday. Photo: AAP

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Mr Abbott praised the officer for his foresight in knowing that the soil would be “sacred” for the victims’ families.

“It was a humane act, and in stark contrast to the savagery that brought the plane down,” said Mr Abbott.

“The names of the Australians killed in the MH17 atrocity a year ago today are etched on this plaque just as they are etched in our hearts.”

Mr Abbott and his wife Margaret laid a native wattle branch on the plaque, before inviting members from each of the victim’s families to do the same.

The outdoor memorial was followed by a larger service, where Governor General Peter Cosgrove assured the families, “You are not alone. We are with you. We are Australian.”

The memorial comes after newly released footage yesterday showed people ransacking the victims’ luggage at the site of the attack in Rozsypne, Ukraine.

298 people lost their lives when plane MH17 went down over Russia-Ukraine territory on July 17, 2014.

Ukraine and other Western countries have accused pro-Russian separatists of shooting down the plane, saying they may have used a surface-to-air missile.

The plane had been flying over a war-torn territory avoided by airlines such as Korean Air, Asiana Airlines and British Airways, although Malaysian Airlines was not the only carrier still flying over the area at the time.

The Netherlands, home to the majority of those killed in the attack, has been joined by Australia, Ukraine, Belgium and Malaysia in its ongoing investigation into the attacks.

Call are being heard for an international, UN-backed tribunal to prosecute the offenders.

“Justice must be delivered for the 298 innocent people who lost their lives,” said British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.

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

The tribunal could be blocked by Russia, who sits with veto power on the UN Security Council.