The Australian government has renewed its vow to bring to justice those responsible for the shooting down of MH17 as the families of those lost prepare to mark the third anniversary of the atrocity.
The King and Queen of the Netherlands will open a memorial in Amsterdam on Monday to remember the 298 people who died when the Malaysia Airlines flight was brought down over Ukraine’s disputed Donetsk region on July 17, 2014.
Most of those killed on the flight just hours after it left Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport were Dutch and Malaysian. Australia claimed 38 victims.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Sunday reaffirmed Australia’s support for the Dutch prosecution of those responsible.
“We will work as hard as we can to ensure that the families of those who were killed do receive justice and can have some closure after this atrocity that occurred three years ago,” Ms Bishop told the ABC.
“We believe we have the best possible option available to us,” she said, citing the Dutch-led prosecution.
A Dutch-led team of investigators that included Australians concluded in September the rocket was fired from territory in eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russian separatists.
Nevertheless, Russia insists the plane was brought down by Ukraine’s military, not the separatists.
Ms Bishop also urged Russia to comply with a UN Security Council resolution after if blocked moves to set up an international tribunal.
The trial in the Netherlands may have to be in absentia, with reports some witnesses had been detained in Russia, she said.
Malaysia’s transport minister this week expressed hope the suspects to face charges may be known by the end of the year.
The monument for the victims near Schiphol Airport will be a memorial forest featuring one tree for each of the victims.
The forest monument is in the shape of a ribbon and was inspired by the black memorial ribbon used to symbolise mourning after the crash.
It is surrounded by a ring of sunflowers which will blossom during the month of July and are also found in the eastern Ukranian fields where some parts of the plane wreckage were found.
The families of Sydney packer Jack O’Brien and Toowoomba couple Jill and Roger Guard are expected to among many Australians to attend the opening.