Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Interpol team begins identifying victims of flight MH17 crash

International police agency Interpol said on Tuesday one of its teams had started identifying victims of the Malaysia Airlines MH 17 flight that crashed over Ukraine last week.

"The remains of victims recovered so far were labelled and numbered before being transported in refrigerated freight wagons from Donetsk to the designated centre of operations in Kharkiv where the Interpol Incident Response Team, along with other international disaster victim identification teams in place, will carry out preliminary examinations," the Lyon, France-based agency said in a statement.

"Members of INTERPOL’s Incident Response Team (IRT) in Kharkiv, Ukraine have started the disaster victim identification (DVI) process following the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17.

The remains of victims recovered so far were labelled and numbered before being transported in refrigerated freight wagons from Donetsk to the designated centre of operations in Kharkiv where the INTERPOL IRT, along with other international DVI teams in place, will carry out preliminary examinations.

The 10-strong IRT is currently comprised of three Dutch DVI specialists, one of whom is the IRT leader, four INTERPOL officials, a Brazilian forensics expert and current chair of the INTERPOL DVI Steering Group and representatives from Europol and the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).

Once the preliminary examinations are completed, is it expected that the victims will be transported to the Netherlands where the full DVI process will be carried out in accordance with INTERPOL standards.

The IRT is also liaising closely with a dedicated crisis cell within INTERPOL’s Command and Coordination Centre (CCC) at the General Secretariat headquarters to coordinate with other member countries with DVI expertise for further specialist deployment as required.

Offers of assistance to deploy additional DVI experts have currently been received from 13 INTERPOL member countries. Member countries which lost citizens in the MH 17 crash will also be requested to gather and send ante-mortem data to the CCC in order for the victims to be identified as quickly as possible in order for them to be returned to their families"

Russia said it was also ready to join ICAO-led international experts who are investigating the plane crash.

The remains, which were earlier moved out of territory held by pro-Russian rebels, are due to be flown from the city of Kharkiv to the Netherlands.

The head of the Dutch forensics team, Jain Tuinder, has revealed that the train which arrived in Kharkiv earlier on Tuesday contained 200 bodies - significantly less than that claimed by separatist leader Alexander Borodai.

Mr Tuinder said investigators would have to go back to the crash site to carry out another search.

"We will not leave until every remain has left this country so we will have to go on and bargain again with the people over there," he told journalists in Kharkiv on Tuesday evening.

Monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe examining the wreckage found that major pieces of the plane had been cut into and that large parts now looked different.

Countries directly affected by the disaster, such as the Netherlands, Australia, and the UK, have been concerned that the crash site was not properly sealed off, with the risk that valuable evidence could be put at risk.

Earlier on Tuesday, British Prime Minister David Cameron said that Britain has agreed to a Dutch request for air accident investigators to retrieve data from the black boxes of the Malaysia Airlines plane that was downed over Ukraine with the loss of 298 lives.

The two boxes may shed light on Western claims that flight MH17 was shot down with a Russian surface-to-air missile fired from an area controlled by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

"We've agreed Dutch request for air accident investigators at Farnborough to retrieve data from MH17 black boxes for international analysis," Cameron said on Twitter.

The UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), based in Farnborough, southern England, is part of the Department for Transport and is responsible for the investigation of civil aircraft accidents and serious incidents.

Earlier on Tuesday, bodies of those killed in the Malaysia Airlines crash reached Ukrainian government-controlled territory.

As Western leaders increasingly pointed the finger of blame at pro-Russian separatists, and Moscow itself, over the shooting down of a Malaysia Airlines plane in eastern Ukraine, the government in Kuala Lumpur said little.

The reasons for that reticence - which had drawn criticism at home - became clear on Tuesday, when Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced shortly after midnight that his government had negotiated the release of the remains of nearly 300 victims of Flight MH17 from separatist-held territory.

Najib, working through intermediaries to reach rebel leader Alexander Borodai, was a key figure in brokering the deal, according to two sources in Malaysia with direct knowledge of the negotiations.

Tuesday 22 July 2014





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