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Rebels to give MH17 black boxes to aviation group

Associated Press

TOREZ, Ukraine (AP) - Rebels have recovered the black boxes from downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and will hand them over to the International Civil Aviation Organization, a rebel leader said Sunday.

Alexander Borodai also said the bodies recovered from the crash site in eastern Ukraine would remain in refrigerated train cars at a station in the rebel-held town of Torez, 15 kilometers (9 miles) away, until the arrival of an international aviation delegation.

MH17 Latest: Rebels Hand Over Bodies, Black Boxes

Ukraine and the separatists accuse each other of firing a surface-to-air missile Thursday at Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 as it flew from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur some 33,000 feet (10,000 meters) above the battlefields of eastern Ukraine. Both deny shooting down the plane. All those onboard the flight - 283 passengers and 15 crew - were killed.

It was immediately not clear Sunday if the rebels and the Ukrainian government were working together or were at odds with each other on recovering the bodies - and from their comments, many of officials didn't appear to know either.

A Ukrainian emergency spokeswoman said the armed rebels had forced emergency workers to hand over all 196 bodies recovered from the Malaysia Airlines crash site and did not tell them where the bodies were going. Ukrainian government officials, meanwhile, prepared a disaster crisis center in the government-held city of Kharkiv, expecting to receive the bodies, but those hopes appeared delayed or even dashed Sunday.

"The bodies will go nowhere until experts arrive," Borodai said, speaking in the rebel-held city of Donetsk.

Borodai said he was expecting a team of 12 Malaysian experts and that he was disappointed at how long they had taken to arrive. He insisted that rebels had not interfered with the crash investigation, despite reports to the contrary by international monitors and journalists at the crash site.

The rapid-fire developments Sunday morning came after a wave of international outrage over how the bodies of plane crash victims were being handled and amid fears that the armed rebels who control the territory where the plane came down could be tampering with the evidence.

Ukraine says Russia has been sending sophisticated arms to the rebels, a charge that Moscow denies.

The U.S. embassy in Kiev issued a strong statement Sunday pointing to Russian complicity in arming the rebels, saying it has concluded "that Flight MH17 was likely downed by a SA-11 surface-to-air missile from separatist-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine." It said over the weekend of July 12-13, "Russia sent a convoy of military equipment with up to 150 vehicles, including tanks armored personnel carriers artillery, and multiple rockets launchers" to the separatists. The statement also said Russia was training separatist fighters in southwest Russia, including on air defense systems.

The rebels have been strictly limiting the movements of international monitors and journalists at the crash site, which is near the Russian border, and Ukraine's Emergency Ministry said its workers were laboring under duress, overseen by the armed rebels.

Associated Press journalists saw reeking bodies baking in the summer heat Saturday, piled into body bags by the side of the road or still sprawled where they landed in the verdant farmland in eastern Ukraine after their plane was shot out of the sky.

By Sunday morning, AP journalists saw no bodies and no armed rebels at the crash site. Emergency workers were searching the sprawling fields only for body parts.

There was no immediate word on the bodies of the 102 other plane victims, but Michael Bociurkiw, a spokesman for monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said some bodies have likely been incinerated without a trace.

"We're looking at the field where the engines have come down. This was the area which was exposed to the most intense heat. We do not see any bodies here. It appears that some have been vaporized," he told reporters in Kiev on Sunday, speaking via phone from the crash site.

Alexander Pilyushny, an emergency worker combing the crash site for body parts Sunday, told the AP it took the rebels several hours Saturday to cart away the bodies. He said he and other workers had no choice but to hand them over.

"They are armed and we are not," Pilyushny said.

Nataliya Khuruzhaya, a duty officer at the train station in Torez, said emergency workers loaded plane victims' bodies Sunday into five sealed, refrigerated train cars.

Vasily Khoma, deputy of governor of the Kharkiv region where Ukraine has set up a crisis center to handle the disaster, said the Ukrainian state railway company had provided the refrigerated train cars. Kharkiv is 300 kilometers (185 miles) north of the crash site.

He said no information was available on when airplane parts would be brought to the city and that the priority now was on recovering bodies. He said a mobile lab to handle DNA analysis was being delivered from Dnipropetrovsk.

Residents in Kharkov have been inundating a special call center to offer their services as volunteers. Ten hotels in Kharkiv say they will give free rooms for relatives of the victims.

In a blistering article for the Sunday Times, British Prime Minister David Cameron called the attack a "direct result of Russia destabilizing a sovereign state, violating its territorial integrity, backing thuggish militias and training and arming them."

"We must turn this moment of outrage into a moment of action," he wrote.

In a coded rebuke of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European leaders who have blocked efforts to impose tougher sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin for Russia's actions in Ukraine, Cameron said Europe must now "respond robustly."

"For too long, there has been a reluctance on the part of too many European countries to face up to the implications of what is happening in eastern Ukraine," Cameron wrote.

Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans, speaking in Kiev, demanded that the culprits be found.

"Once we have the proof, we will not stop until the people are brought to justice," he said.


Peter Leonard in Kiev; Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow; Nicholas Garriga in Hrabove, Ukraine; Lucian Kim in Kharkiv; Danica Kirka in London and Lolita C. Baldor in Washington contributed to this report.

Join the discussion

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boogiewiz July 20 2014 at 10:11 AM

the boxes will prove nothing.. BUT! I am curious that the rebels are turning over the black boxes that they said they never had... LOL.... we shouldn't believe anything they say

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2 replies
steblawar boogiewiz July 20 2014 at 12:56 PM

I believe they claimed they had recovered (3 anyway) them all along, the question was what had they done with them. Hopefully they never brought in a couple of "technicians" to see if the data could be "saved" before recycling them. :-)

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Carol boogiewiz July 20 2014 at 1:23 PM

boogie - supposedly they were located yesterday

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Anagaho July 20 2014 at 10:05 AM

Who???, actually it was Russian Military personal who were sent by Putin across the border with missiles to protect Russian militaryfrom air attacks , as the fighter jets close to the border patrolling shot down a Unkrain fighter jet, these are Russian military thugs in the Ukaine, don't be fooled, they are hooded to conceal identifaction!!

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James July 20 2014 at 11:42 AM

They are hooded because they are cowards and because they are Russian separatists..

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2 replies
rpthe1 James July 20 2014 at 5:43 PM

Not "Russian separatists" just Russian military as they always have been

Flag Reply +1 rate up
chst586 James July 21 2014 at 11:29 AM

Hooded: Do you mean like American swat teams or the FBI? They are hooded because they don't want the Ukrainian gov. to be able to identify them, and use the info to find, and murder their families.

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rocky36631 July 20 2014 at 11:40 AM

The New World Order (Zionists banking and “the corporations who grow up around them” -Thomas Jefferson) is a fact, not speculation. You need only listen to history starting with George H.W. Bushes 9/11/91 New World Order speech. Notice the date. Coincidence – I think not! And then Zionist Fed Reserve banker James Paul Warburg’s statement: “We shall have World Government, whether or not we like it. The only question is whether World Government will be achieved by conquest or consent.” Nothing has changed folks, the Book of Daniel and Revelations is unfolding before your very eyes; “Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.” Yea I know, I’m the lunatic right? Goethe said: “The hardest thing to see is what’s right I front of you” and, “Few people have the imagination for reality.” Reality is here!

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5 replies
ram4131 July 20 2014 at 12:33 PM

Those Russians treated that whole crash site like a goddam carnival. Moe, Larry, and Curley would have provided better oversight.

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1 reply
lov2elkhnt ram4131 July 20 2014 at 1:15 PM

No, your wrong, the crime sceen disturbance was direct and deliberate and ordered by the new improved Stalin of Ruska, Vladimir Putin.

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1 reply
buddwhyzr lov2elkhnt July 20 2014 at 6:44 PM

No one can "direct" a large group of heartless idiots to randomly pick through a gruesome crash scene and leave the passengers to rot in the sun.

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olan5tops July 20 2014 at 10:54 AM

Oh, those black boxes will never be turned over to anyone but Putin!

Flag Reply +4 rate up
Carol July 20 2014 at 1:58 PM

Seems like more could have been done to secure the integrity of this crime scene by now, but lets be fair. Obama has been very busy on his most recent executive order to protect the trannies from job discrimination. So at least we can all rest easy about that...

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6 replies
Michael Ault July 20 2014 at 9:45 AM

This is what I don't understand. Why are commercial planes flying over a well known war zone ?

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6 replies
Jerry July 20 2014 at 11:18 AM

Anyone know who recovered flight 655 black boxes or Flight 007. Anyone?

Flag Reply +1 rate up
lov2elkhnt July 20 2014 at 12:48 PM

Too late, the chain of custody of evidence has been severly disrupted. CIA Sat picts are the order of the day. We'll have clear picts of those standing around the launcher with the optics they have. We can even see who has cavities to be addressed when they smile. Weather the coward Obamanation will just talk and make void threats is quite another matter.

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3 replies
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