Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Pro-Russian rebel leader Alexander Borodai to give black boxes to Malaysian investigators

The black boxes will be handed over in Donetsk at 9pm local time on Monday

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The Independent Online

The leader of pro-Russian rebels has agreed to give Malaysian investigators in Ukraine the black boxes from flight MH17 which was shot down on Thursday, the Malaysian Prime Minister has said.

Following a phone conversation with Alexander Borodai, Prime Minister Najib Razak also said the rebel leader would allow independent international investigators “safe access” to the site where the Malaysia Airlines commercial jet went down in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.

The black boxes, which could hold information about the flight en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, will be handed over to the Malaysia team in Donetsk at 9pm Monday (8pm GMT).

His announcement came as the remains of 282 of the crash victims were being moved by train from the eastern Ukrainian city of Torez to Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine.

From there, they will be flown to Amsterdam on a Dutch C130 Hercules military plane and handed over to Dutch authorities, Najib said.


“I must stress that although an agreement has been reached, there remain a number of steps required before it is completed,” Najib said at a news conference at his residence just after midnight, local time, on Monday.

“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 cooperation.”

As Mayalsia is a Muslim nation, the loved ones of the 43 citizens who died on board the aircraft had become increasingly distressed that remains were not buried within a day - or as soon as possible - as custom dictates.

But Najib said that following any necessary forensic work, the remains of the Malaysian nationals would soon be flown to their home country.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announces rebels will hand over the two black boxes (Reuters)

On Sunday, he had said that the remains of the Malaysian victims must be returned to Malaysia before the Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan., which this year falls on 28 July.

Anger and resentment toward the Russian-backed rebels and Moscow have been escalating worldwide, including in Malaysia, where there have been calls for economic sanctions against Russia.

Emotions have were also running high in the Netherlands, from where 193 of the victims on board MH17 were from.

Prosecutors in the Netherlands have opened a war crimes investigation into the incident, which Western powers have largely blamed on Russian-backed rebels in Ukraine.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte told parliament on Monday that his government's priority was to recover and identify the bodies of the victims.

Moscow has responded to US-led claims of Russian complicity in the shooting down of the aircraft, by claiming that Ukrainian warplanes had flown close to the passenger jet before it crashed.

On Monday, the Russian defence ministry also rejected accusations that Moscow had supplied the rebels with SA-11 Buk anti-aircraft missile systems - the weapon said by Kiev and the West to have downed the airliner - “or any other weapons”.