Melbourne: An angry Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott today said the downing of a Malaysian plane over Ukraine was a crime not an accident and lashed out at Russia for its "deeply unsatisfactory" response over the crash that killed all 298 people, including 28 Australians.
Malaysian airliner MH17 was allegedly shot down by a surface-to-air missile over rebel-held eastern Ukraine yesterday.
"As things stand, Madam Speaker, this looks less like an accident than a crime," Abbott said in Parliament. "And, if so, the perpetrators must be brought to justice."
Abbott said Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had met with Russia's ambassador to Australia, Vladimir Morozov as "it appeared Russian-backed rebels were responsible for shooting down the commercial flight over eastern Ukraine."
"The initial response of the Russian ambassador was to blame Ukraine for this, and I have to say that this is deeply, deeply unsatisfactory," Abbott later told reporters.
"The idea that Russia can somehow say that none of this has anything to do with them because it happened in Ukrainian airspace frankly does not stand up to any serious scrutiny."
"This aircraft didn't come down through accident. It was shot down. It did not crash. It was downed. And it was downed over territory controlled by Russian-backed rebels," he said. He said Australia would seek a binding resolution through the UN Security Council for an impartial probe with full access to the site, debris, black box and "all individuals who might be in a position to shed light on this terrible event."
Expressing his deepest condolences, Abbott said it was "a grim day for our country and it is a grim day for our world." Abbott said a Department of Foreign Affairs team was preparing to leave for Kiev to offer counselling and help.
"We owe it as well to the families of the dead to find out exactly what has happened and exactly who is responsible," he said.
"Our hearts go out to the families of all the dead. Our thoughts and prayers especially are with the families of the Australian dead," he said.
"We can't restore them to life but we can and will do everything to support them in this sad and bitter time because that is the Australian way."
Reports have suggested that there were 27 Australians on the plane while several delegates were due to arrive in Melbourne to attend an International AIDS conference tomorrow. According to The Age, about 100 of the 298 people on board MH17 were heading to Melbourne for the conference.