Townsville Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - CHARLES MI­RANDA

DIS­TURB­ING footage has emerged show­ing Rus­sian- backed rebels, be­liev­ing they had shot down a Ukrainian fighter jet, ran­sack­ing the lug­gage of pas­sen­gers and crew in the wreck­age of Malaysia Air­lines Flight MH17.

A year ago to­day 298 pas­sen­gers and crew, in­clud­ing 38 Aus­tralian cit­i­zens and res­i­dents, died when the Kuala Lumpur- bound plane was downed over eastern Ukraine, 40km from Rus­sia’s bor­der.

News Corp has ob­tained cam­corder footage, shot by the rebels them­selves. The rebels ini­tially be­lieved they had shot down a Ukrainian air force fighter jet with a ground- to- air mis­sile.

The film records their dis­may as, min­utes later, they dis­cover the air­craft is a com­mer­cial air­liner.

News Corp this week handed the footage to a multi­na­tional joint in­ves­ti­ga­tion team of po­lice from Aus­tralia, Bel­gium, Malaysia, the Nether­lands and Ukraine, which is due to re­port in four months.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion by News Corp can re­veal that just af­ter 3pm lo­cal time – two hours af­ter civil­ian air traf­fic con­trol lost con­tact with MH17 at 1.20pm – a rebel unit was dis­patched from Donetsk to hunt for Ukrainian pilots who had re­port­edly parachuted from their downed air­craft. An armed unit, guided by a smoke plume from the wreck­age, ar­rived at the site and be­gan the hunt for the pilots.

But to their ev­i­dent con­fu­sion, they found more blaz­ing wreck­age and de­bris than they had ex­pected.

The 17- min­utes of footage, which was smug­gled out of the rebels’ Donetsk base, shows the faces of the mili­tia, and in the case of one, a Donetsk Peo­ple’s Re­pub­lic iden­tity card.

News Corp has had mili­tia con­ver­sa­tions trans­lated.

Dis­turbingly, the footage shows rebels work­ing around the dis­mem- bered bod­ies of the pas­sen­gers and crew to rum­mage through their be­long­ings to find items of value.

They ex­press shock at find­ing the back­pack of an Aus­tralian, be­fore they pore over the per­son’s be­long­ings. The com­man­der at the site takes a call from head­quar­ters and is told there were two planes.

He then or­ders all the civil­ians to be cleared from the area and for all film­ing to stop, cit­ing his fear that footage could end up on the in­ter­net.

He even asks those who were film­ing as they went through bags to en­sure that none of their faces are shown.

BODY SEARCH: A video im­age of the scene af­ter the down­ing of Malaysia Air­lines Flight MH17 one year ago to­day.

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