Malaysia: Rebels to let police secure MH17 site

Malaysia to send 68 police to MH17 crash site in Ukraine after rebels agree to allow police in

Malaysia: Rebels to let police secure MH17 site

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- Malaysia said Sunday that it would send dozens of police to the Malaysian airliner's crash site in eastern Ukraine after pro-Russia separatists agreed to allow international police personnel to provide protection for investigators.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said in a statement that he spoke with his counterparts from the Netherlands and Australia, and the three agreed to work together in deploying police personnel to the crash site.

Sixty-eight Malaysian police personnel will leave Kuala Lumpur for the crash site on Wednesday as part of the international deployment, the statement said.

There were 193 Dutch, 43 Malaysians and 37 Australians on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 when it was shot down over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine on July 17 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, killing all 298 people on board. The separatists have been blamed by many in the international community for shooting down the plane.

Najib had reached an agreement with rebel leader Alexander Borodai last week to secure the handing over of the plane's black boxes and the remains of the victims, as well as to ensure safe access to the crash site.

In announcing Saturday that he would travel to the Netherlands this week to discuss the situation with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Najib said that while the first two conditions of his agreement with Borodai had been met, his "priority now is to ensure the third part of the deal is honored, and that international investigators are given full and secure access to the site."

In Sunday's statement, Najib said Boradai had "agreed to allow a deployment of international police personnel to enter the crash site."

"So far, international air crash investigators have been unable to properly deploy across the vast crash site in eastern Ukraine and collect evidence due to ongoing security concerns, including continued military activity," the statement said.

These security concerns may be "preventing full and unfettered access to the site, and therefore a proper, independent investigation from being carried out," it said, adding that "Malaysia is particularly concerned that some human remains may still be at the crash site."

Australia said Sunday that it would send unarmed police to the crash site. Eleven Australian police will initially be sent Monday into the debris field, which covers 50 square kilometers (20 square miles), Australian Federal Police Commissioner Tony Negus said.

Updated : 2021-01-27 00:42 GMT+08:00