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"Sickening" footage of Russian-backed rebels rooting through victims' luggage

Crime DeskBy Shuki Byrne
"Sickening": A rebel rummages through a passenger's luggage
"Sickening": A rebel rummages through a passenger's luggage

Shocking footage has emerged which purportedly shows Russian-backed rebels sifting through the luggage of MH17 victims after the plane was shot down over Ukraine.

As the world mourned the victims on the first anniversary of the disaster, footage emerged of rebels rummaging through the belongings of the victims. 

The video was obtained by Sydney's Daily Telegraph and it was released today after it was smuggled out of Ukraine 

All 298 passengers and crew on board the Boeing 777 were killed, the majority of them Dutch, but with 38 Australian citizens and residents among them.

"It is sickening to watch and 12 months on from the downing of MH17 it is deeply concerning that this footage has emerged now," Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told the Nine Network.

"It is certainly consistent with the intelligence advice that we received 12 months ago, that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 had been shot down by a surface-to-air missile," she added.

The newspaper claimed the footage, which it said was smuggled out of the fighters' Donetsk base and only obtained this week, was filmed by the rebels themselves as they captured what they initially believed to be a Ukrainian air force fighter jet they had shot down.

The film records their apparent dismay as they discover the aircraft was a commercial plane.

The video also shows men, holding guns and dressed in army camouflage, wandering among the downed plane's wreckage, rifling through bags and scattering their contents on the ground.

A published transcript of the video commentary, translated from Russian and Ukrainian to English, appears to indicate they are looking for evidence of who was on board.

The newspaper said that in one frame a man wore a clearly visible identification tag from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic around his neck.

The plane was shot down during a bout of heavy fighting last year between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists, sparking global condemnation.

Kiev and the West point the finger at the separatists, saying they may have used a BUK surface-to-air missile supplied by Russia. But Moscow denies involvement and instead accuses Ukraine's military.

A criminal probe by a joint investigation team consisting of Australian, Belgian, Dutch, Malaysian and Ukrainian detectives is currently underway.

The five countries have also asked the United Nations Security Council to establish an international criminal tribunal to try those responsible for crimes connected to the plane's downing.

Britain, one of the permanent members of the Security Council, backed the move on Friday.

Warning: The following footage contains images some may find distressing.