News Column

Fighting Blocks Investigators, Police From MH17 Crash Site

July 28, 2014

Alliance News

Amsterdam (Alliance News) - Fighting in the area around the Malaysia Airlines crash site in eastern Ukraine prevented a team of unarmed Dutch and Australian police officers from reaching the wreckage for a second consecutive day Monday.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe said "security reasons" led to their convoy turning back to the city of Donetsk.

A visit by the Dutch and Australian teams to secure the debris site and collect remaining bodies was also cancelled on Sunday amid reports of fighting between government forces and pro-Russian separatists.

The Boeing 777 was carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down near Ukraine's border with Russia on July 17.

The victims included 194 Dutch citizens, 43 Malaysian citizens and 37 Australian nationals and residents.

In Geneva, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said the shooting down of the airliner could be viewed as a war crime and must therefore be investigated in a thorough, independent and impartial manner.

"This violation of international law, given the prevailing circumstances, may amount to a war crime," the UN high commissioner for human rights said.

The US, Ukraine and European countries have accused the Moscow-backed rebels of firing at the passenger plane, alleging there is evidence to suggest Russian-made missiles were used in the attack.

On Monday, the leaders of the US, Germany, France, Britain and Italy confirmed their "intention to adopt new measures against Russia" over its role in the crisis, the French presidency said.

In a joint telephone call US President Barack Obama and his European counterparts "regretted that Russia had neither exerted pressure on the separatists in order to get them to negotiate nor taken the concrete measures expected of it in order to control the Ukraine-Russia border."

They also vowed to be vigilant with regard to "any direct military support that Russia could lend the separatists in the fighting."

EU ambassadors were to hold talks later Monday on blacklisting people from Russian President Vladimir Putin's inner circle for the first time.

EU representatives are also Tuesday to discuss economic sanctions against Russia which the bloc had avoided so far, for fear of the fallout for its own economy.

Japan said it would also impose additional sanctions on Russia.

Japan will freeze assets held by individuals or groups considered to be directly involved in Russia's annexation of Crimea or the instability in Ukraine, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier repeated Russia's calls for a investigation into the crash to be held under the auspices of the UN.

Lavrov and his US counterpart John Kerry had earlier released a joint call for a ceasefire in the area.

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Original headline: UPDATE: Fighting In Eastern Ukraine Keeps Police From MH17 Crash Site


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