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Rebels 'stealing bodies' from MH17 crash site: Ukraine

July 20, 2014 14:20 IST

Rebels 'stealing bodies' from MH17 crash site: Ukraine

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As Russia was accused of a mass cover-up, grieving families pleaded for their loved ones’ remains to be returned home.

Separatists loyal to Russian President Vladimir Putin are said to have driven at least 37 bodies by truck to a forensic laboratory and morgue in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. 

Ukrainian authorities believe that the rebels are taking the bodies to undisclosed sites to destroy evidence that proved that pro-Russian separatists in the disputed Donetsk region shot down the passenger jet, flight MH17, with a Buk surface-to-air missile after mistaking it for a Ukrainian military transport plane.

Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans warned that the Netherlands was “angry, furious” at news that bodies were being dragged around the crash site. The Dutch government has asked Ukraine for help in bringing “our people” home.

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Image: A pro-Russian separatist stands at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk.
Photographs: Maxim Zmeyev/Reuters

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Rebels 'stealing bodies' from MH17 crash site: Ukraine

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The Boeing 777, which took off from Amsterdam bound for Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, crashed into farmland on Thursday, killing all 298 people on board, including 10 Britons.

Konstantin Batozskiy, adviser to the pro-Kiev chairman of the Donetsk regional administration, said: “On Saturday night, rebels took away 37 bodies of the victims and moved them to Donetsk regional forensic laboratory. Doctors there are already working with the remains under the control of armed people in masks who surrounded the building. I do not know how to describe these actions. I do not know if there is an article in the criminal code for kidnapping dead bodies. I do not know if the rebels have got a shred of common sense or humanism. I am appealing to everybody, please help to stop this crime.”

Batozskiy also accused separatists of stealing and tampering with the plane’s wreckage. He said: “In the morning, the rebels brought cranes to the scene of the crash and started taking away the parts of the plane. I don’t know where they are taking them.”

The Ukrainian government said that rebels were “seeking large transports to carry away plane fragments to Russia”.

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Image: Members of the Ukrainian Emergency Ministry carry a body at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region.
Photographs: Maxim Zmeyev/Reuters

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Rebels 'stealing bodies' from MH17 crash site: Ukraine

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Malaysian transport minister Liow Tiong Lai said: “Interfering with the scene of the crash would undermine the investigation itself. Any action that prevents us from learning the truth about what happened to MH17 cannot be tolerated. Such interference would be a betrayal of the lives that were lost.”

Ukraine’s English-language newspaper the Kyiv Post reported that an emergency worker at the scene claimed 65 bodies had been taken to Donetsk under the cover of darkness.

Rebel leaders, however, insisted they were removed to stop them decomposing in the heat.

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Image: A woman pays her respects at the debris from Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 which landed in a field of sunflowers
Photographs: by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

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Rebels 'stealing bodies' from MH17 crash site: Ukraine

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As the world demands answers as to who carried out the outrage, the credibility of Russian separatists is continuing to slip away.

Air crash investigators were being denied proper access to the downed plane for the second day in a row. According to reports from the scene, the investigators, including six from the UK and others from Malaysia and the Netherlands, were stopped by heavily armed militia.

They were apparently restricted to the road and not the field where much of the plane’s wreckage, bodies and debris lie, including suitcases, books and laptops.

In farcical scenes, the team was hounded by gunmen, some of whom threatened to “kneecap” reporters. One rebel allegedly turned up in a beekeeping suit reeking of alcohol.

Ukraine’s deputy premier Volodymyr Hroysman said the country’s investigators suffered harassment and intimidation at the scene. He complained: “They were barely able to enter this territory. They were there for literally 30 minutes. Then they were removed by fighters, since this territory is controlled by militants and terrorists.”

 

 


Image: Flowers lie on debris from a Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 plane which was downed on Thursday near the village of Rozsypne, in Donetsk,
Photographs: Maxim Zmeyev/Reuters

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