MH17 crash: Malaysian PM asks Alexander Borodai to hand over bodies of victims

Malaysian PM said that he had talked to pro-Russian separatist leader Alexander Borodai and had asked him to return the bodies of those killed in the tragic crash of MH17 in Ukraine.

Last Updated: Jul 21, 2014, 23:19 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: Malaysian PM Mohd Najib Tun Razak said on Monday that he had talked to pro-Russian separatist leader Alexander Borodai and had asked him to return the bodies of those killed in the tragic crash of MH17 in Ukraine.

He revealed that an agreement had been reached with Borodai that “the remains of 282 people in Torez will be moved by train to Kharkiv where they will be handed over to representatives from the Netherlands”.

Razak also said that black boxes of the ill-fated Malaysian plane would be handed over to a his team in Donetsk who will take custody of them.

He posted a series of tweets on the micro-blogging site Twitter regarding the conversation with Borodai -

On a philosophical note, Razak said that though he wanted to voice his anger more strongly, at times it was necessary to work quietly for a better outcome.

Following is the full text of the conversation between Malaysian PM and the rebel leader posted on Facebook -

In recent days, we have been working behind the scenes to establish contact with those in charge of the MH17 crash site.

That contact has now been made. Under difficult and fluid circumstances, we have been discussing the problems that have occupied us all: securing vital evidence from the aircraft, launching an independent investigation, and above all recovering the remains of those who lost their lives.

Tonight, we have established the basis of an agreement to do just that.

Earlier this evening I spoke to Alexander Borodai, who is in command of the region where the tragedy occurred. We have agreed the following:
Firstly, the remains of 282 people, currently in Torez, will be moved by train to Kharkiv, where they will be handed over to representatives from the Netherlands. The train will depart this evening Ukraine time, and will be accompanied by six Malaysian members of the recovery team. The remains will then be flown to Amsterdam on board a Dutch C130 Hercules, together with the Malaysian team. Following any necessary forensic work, the remains of Malaysian citizens will then be flown home to Malaysia.

Secondly, at approximately 9pm tonight Ukraine time, the two black boxes will be handed over to a Malaysian team in Donetsk, who will take custody of them.

Thirdly, independent international investigators will be guaranteed safe access to the crash site to begin a full investigation of the incident.

I must stress that although agreement has been reached, there remain a number of steps required before it is completed.

There is work still to be done, work which relies on continued communication in good faith. Mr Borodai and his people have so far given their co-operation.

I ask that all parties continue to work together to ensure that this agreement is honoured; that the remains of our people are returned, that the black box is handed over, and that the international team is granted full access to the site.

Only then can the investigation into MH17 truly begin; only then can the victims be afforded the respect they deserve. We need to know what caused the plane to crash, and who was responsible for it, so that justice may be done.

In recent days, there were times I wanted to give greater voice to the anger and grief that the Malaysian people feel. And that I feel. But sometimes, we must work quietly in the service of a better outcome.

I understand that for the families, nothing can undo this damage. The lives taken cannot be given back; the dignity lost cannot be regained.

My heart reaches out to those whose loved ones were lost on MH17. We hope and pray that the agreement reached tonight helps bring them a clear step towards closure.

Meanwhile, Dutch forensic experts today 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, AFP reported.

The Boeing 777 was on a scheduled flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down over pro-Russia rebels-held territory of the eastern Ukraine on Thursday.

It is still not clear if the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down purposely or mistakenly, as per PTI.

All 298 people on board were killed in the crash.

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 today to temper the outrage, saying Russia would do "everything in its power" to resolve the Ukrainian conflict.

With Agency inputs