The government of Malaysia is sending a team to the MH17 crash site in eastern Ukraine to find conclusive evidence to help its argument that the plane was shot down.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak confirmed today, in a joint press conference with visiting Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, that the search team would be deployed before winter.
“That's why we are very, very keen to re-enter the crash site before winter sets in. We need at least a few weeks not only to search for the body parts of victims but to assemble physical evidence,” Mr Razak said.
“Once that process is completed, we will look at the criminal side, who is responsible for this atrocious crime.”
All 298 passengers and crew on board Malaysia Airlines MH17 died on 17 July when the Kuala Lumpur-bound flight from Amsterdam crashed as it travelled over the war-torn region of eastern Ukraine.
Mr Razak added that his government has “pretty conclusive” intelligence to suggest that it was shot out of the sky, but that it must be proved beyond any reasonable doubt before going to court.
The Netherlands is spearheading a multi-nation criminal investigation into the crash, with help from Ukraine, Malaysia, Australia and Belgium, though efforts to try and analyse the site have been marred by intense fighting erupting between pro-Moscow rebels and government forces.
However, yesterday a ceasefire was signed by Russia, Ukraine and the rebels, bringing to a halt a five-month-long conflict that left 2,000 dead.
Experts are continuing their work in identifying the victims, with 183 having been confirmed so far.
Most of the travellers were Dutch, however there were also many Australians and Malaysians, in addition to 10 Britons.
Last month, the second of two Newcastle United fans who died while on their way to New Zealand to watch an away match was identified.
John Alder, 63, was travelling with his friend Liam Sweeney on MH17 when they both became victims of the tragedy.
Mr Sweeney’s funeral was held on 21 August following the formal identification of his body, while Mr Alder’s family are now in the process of receiving his body from abroad.
Additional reporting by AP
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