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Australian FM: MH17 Suspects To Be Known In Months And Prosecuted

Although most of the 298 victims were Dutch, there were also 28 Australians who perished in the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says the people responsible for shooting down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine two years ago could be known by the end of 2016 and will be prosecuted.

Bishop told Australia's ABC TV on October 2 that "by the end of the year, maybe early next year, the list of those that we believe should be held accountable will be confirmed and then there must be a prosecution."

International investigators said in a report on September 28 that the plane with 298 people on board was downed by a Russian-made missile fired from territory in Ukraine's Donbas region that is controlled by Russia-backed separatists.

Although most of the victims were Dutch, there were also 28 Australians who perished in the crash.

Moscow has questioned the investigators' findings and called them "preliminary," countering earlier that Ukraine's military shot down the plane.

Bishop said the findings counter Moscow's suggestion that the flight, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in July 2014, was brought down by Ukraine's military rather than the separatists.

Bishop said Russian theories on how the plane was downed were "improbable, implausible."

She said if Russia vetoed a UN-backed prosecution of the suspects than a "Lockerbie-style prosecution" was possible, a reference to a tribunal set up to try suspects in the 1988 bombing of a PanAm flight over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Based on reporting by AAP and Reuters