Evidence destroyed: Ukraine

Rebels curb access to site; Merkel, Putin for international investigation

Updated - November 16, 2021 06:51 pm IST

Published - July 19, 2014 11:26 pm IST - GRABROVE, Ukraine:

A pro-Russia militant holds up a stuffed toy at the crash site of the Malaysian jet, to rebel-held east Ukraine, on Friday.

A pro-Russia militant holds up a stuffed toy at the crash site of the Malaysian jet, to rebel-held east Ukraine, on Friday.

Ukraine on Saturday accused pro-Russian insurgents of destroying evidence at the crash site of the Malaysia Airlines jet, whose downing in the rebel-held east has drawn global condemnation of the Kremlin.

World leaders have demanded Russia’s full cooperation in the probe into the shooting down of flight MH 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 298 people from nearly a dozen countries on board.

Malaysia’s transport minister also expressed alarm over “indications that vital evidence has not been preserved in place” by militias guarding the scene.

On Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a joint call for an independent commission to have immediate access to the site. Following a telephone call, the two leaders “agreed that an international, independent commission under the direction of ICAO (the United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organization) should quickly have access... to shed light on the circumstances of the crash and move the victims,” the German government said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also agreed that all evidence from the downed airplane should be made available for international investigation and that experts should be given access to work on the site.

However, a team of nearly 30 international monitors who returned on Saturday to inspect the wreckage were met with Kalashnikov-wielding militias who gave them access to only the outskirts of the field — its swaying sunflowers hiding dismembered remains of the bodies of victims. “We have now had the possibility to see a bit more of this rather large scene,” said Alexander Hug, deputy chief monitor of the OSCE special monitoring mission to Ukraine.

The Ukrainian government’s statement said the “terrorists with the support of Russia are trying to destroy proof of this international crime." Kiev accused militia fighters of refusing to hand over “black box” data recorders and inexplicably moving 38 bodies to a morgue in the insurgent-controlled city of Donetsk.

Rebel leader Aleksandr Borodai said militias had never recovered the data recorders.

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