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Investigators see MH17 bodies

July 21, 2014

Dutch investigators have said that their priority is identifying the victims of the Malaysia Airlines crash in Ukraine and sending them home. The Dutch government has launched a war crimes investigation into the crash.

MH17 Waggons OSZE Mitarbeiter 21.07.2014 Alexander Hug
Image: Getty Images

Dutch experts working to identify the victims of the Malaysian Airlines crash praised the work of Ukrainian recovery workers who collected thousands of bodies.

"I am very impressed about the work that was done over here. I think they did a hell of a job in a hell of a place,"Peter van Vliet, the head of the Dutch investigation team said.

Earlier, there were reports that some of the bodies may have been looted and that they were not secured properly after the crash. The Ukrainian government has confirmed that 282 bodies and 87 fragments had been found from the crash site.

Van Vliet said his team’s priority would be getting the bodies, which are being stored in refrigerated train cars at the eastern Ukraine town of Torez, back home to the Netherlands. Ukrainian officials were hoping to get the bodies to a safer location as fighting flared up in the eastern city of Donetsk.

War crimes investigation

Meanwhile, the Netherland’s public prosecutor‘s office has opened an investigation into the MH17 crash on suspicion of murder, war crimes and intentionally downing an airliner. According to the Law on International Crimes, the Netherlands can prosecute any individual who has committed a crime against a Dutch citizen, even if the alleged crime occurred beyond its borders.

Malaysian Airlines MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine while on a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur last Thursday. All 298 passengers were killed,of which 193 were Dutch citizens.

An atmosphere of grief and mourning swept across Netherlands after news of the crash became public, but that sentiment is being replaced with anger. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he had made it “crystal clear” to the Russian President, Vladimir Putin that international investigators needed complete access to the crash site, which is in an area held by pro-Russia separatist rebels.

mg/pfd (reuters, AFP, AP)