SEPANG, Malaysia: Families of those killed when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine last year demanded justice on Saturday at an emotional memorial ceremony ahead of the first anniversary of the disaster.
The somber memorial service at Kuala Lumpur International Airport was attended by Prime Minister Najib Razak, and relatives of those who died used the opportunity to air their continued frustrations over the handling of the tragedy.
“We want to find out who shot down the plane. We must find out,” said Ivy Loi, whose husband Captain Eugene Choo was one of the pilots on board the flight.
Loi, who was greeted by many Malaysia Airline employees at the event, attended the service with her two sons and relatives.
“We’re just trying to cope,” she added as she wiped away tears.
The Boeing 777 passenger jet was traveling between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down in eastern Ukraine on July 17, during some of the worst fighting between government forces and pro-Russian separatists who took up arms against Kiev’s pro-Western government a few months earlier.
All 298 passengers and crew on board the Malaysia Airlines jetliner—the majority of them Dutch—died.
Suspicions immediately fell on the separatists, who may have used a surface-to-air missile supplied by Russia to shoot down the plane.
But Moscow flatly denied it was involved and pointed the finger instead at Ukraine’s military.
Speaking at the memorial, Najib said the international criminal probe into the downing of the plane was ongoing and could be completed by the end of the year.
“Detailed investigations are still continuing… and they are expected to be finished by the end of 2015 at least,” he said.
The memorial was held on Saturday instead of the first anniversary—July 17—because it falls during Eid al-Fitr, Islam’s biggest festival and the culmination of the fasting month of Ramadan, a time of joyful family gatherings.
The timing of the anniversary is therefore especially painful for Muslim-majority Malaysia.