Dutch experts inspect Ukraine crash bodies
By Marion Thibaut and Stephane Orjollet, AFP
July 22, 2014, 12:02 am TWN
TOREZ, Ukraine--Dutch forensic experts on Monday began examining bodies from the MH17 plane disaster that have been held up at an east Ukraine train station as Kiev and insurgents wrangle over the fate of the remains.
As world leaders deplored the “shambolic” state of the crash site left in the hands of the rebels, the animosity between the two sides was underlined by intense shelling which erupted again in rebel stronghold Donetsk, a city just 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the station.
Three people were killed and terrified civilians fled, as Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko quickly ordered his troops to hold fire within a 40-kilometre radius around the crash site, where forensic experts were heading.
Kiev said the remains of the 298 victims killed when the Malaysia Airlines flight was apparently shot by a surface-to-air missile Thursday should be transferred to the Netherlands.
Ukraine accused rebels of refusing to release the grisly cargo, while the insurgents said Kiev could not be trusted and that they would only give control over the remains to international experts.
The U.N. Security Council is expected to adopt an Australia-backed resolution demanding pro-Russian separatists grant unrestricted access to the crash site to international experts when it meets at 1900 GMT on Monday.
Moscow has borne the brunt of international fury, as the United States accused Russia of supplying the missile system used to shoot down the aircraft.
President Vladimir Putin, who has also come under fire for failing to use his influence to get the pro-Russian rebels to give investigators full access to the crash site, sought Sunday to temper the outrage, saying Russia would do “everything in its power” to resolve the Ukrainian conflict.
After speaking with Putin, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whose country lost 28 compatriots and nine residents in the crash, noted the Russian leader had “said all the right things” but that he would “hold the president to his word.”
Civilians flee Donetsk fighting
At the Torez station, close to Donetsk, an overpowering stench filled the air as Dutch investigators, wearing masks and headlights, opened each of the train wagons holding the remains of recovered bodies.
“I think the storage of the bodies is (of) good quality,” Peter van Vliet, the forensic expert leading the Dutch team, said after examining the corpses.
“Now we hope that the train will leave so that we can do the necessary analyses. It is not technically possible here,” he said, as 50 armed insurgents looked on.
Van Vliet said he and his team were escorted by Ukrainian soldiers to a certain point before being handed over to the separatists, and that they would head to the main crash site about 15 kilometers (nine miles) away.