National Memorial Service  MH17
National Memorial Service MH17

MH17 tragedy: Closure elusive for Aussie families

FOR the families of the Australian victims killed in the downing of MH17, the final report identifying suspects will do little to heal their grief.

In June 2014 Paul Guard, the eldest son of Toowoomba doctors Jill and Roger Guard, dropped his parents off at Brisbane airport for the start of their six-week European holiday.

He was to pick them up on July 17 but that morning on the other side of the world, MH17 was brought down by a military rocket and he would never see them again.

Paul said the final report identifying suspects would not bring closure.

"We have known for sometime there were individuals involved and I don't think they will actually be able to extradite them so it doesn't change things much," he said on Wednesday.

Paul Guard, at his Fairfield home, is the son of Jill and Roger Guard who were among the 298 people killed on MH17. Picture: Mark Cranitch
Paul Guard, at his Fairfield home, is the son of Jill and Roger Guard who were among the 298 people killed on MH17. Picture: Mark Cranitch

 

Mr Guard said he blamed the conflict more than anyone MH17-related individual and would rather see everyone involved in the Russian-backed separatist uprising in Ukraine brought to justice to face war crimes "rather than just these guys who fired the missile".

"I don't think anyone intended to bring down a passenger plane," he said of the broader conflict, which has so far claimed the lives of more than 12,000 people since November 2013.

 

Jill and Roger Guard were on board MH17. Picture: Supplied
Jill and Roger Guard were on board MH17. Picture: Supplied


"There is limited value in having a trial, obviously a lot of the families want it, so it's good that it is going ahead but for the amount of money that is being spent and amount of energy and focus that is being put on it, I would be more happy myself for the focus to be put on both stopping the war, making sure it doesn't flare up again, and prosecuting those who started it."

Paul Guard with his wife Jessie Wells at a national memorial service in Canberra for the first anniversary of the downing of Flight MH1. Picture: Gary Ramage
Paul Guard with his wife Jessie Wells at a national memorial service in Canberra for the first anniversary of the downing of Flight MH1. Picture: Gary Ramage

 

He said he wished also the safety guidelines for passenger aircraft flying over conflict zones and inter-airline and nation communications also improved.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) web-based Conflict Zone Repository designed to keep airlines in the loop was discontinued after it failed to deliver any meaningful real-time co-ordination and sharing of threats due to foreign diplomatic relations and differing intelligence classifications constraints. The failure of the program has led to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) representing the world's top 280 airlines including Qantas to repeatedly beg be resolved.

"That to me is a major problem we have got to fix; if anything was to be had out of this it would be to have a better system for getting airlines to do proper risk assessments and as far as I can tell there has been very little progress in this area," Mr Guard said.



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