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Tuesday, Jul 22, 2014

World

Victims’ valuables taken, scattered

The New Paper | Tuesday, Jul 22, 2014

FOUND: Passengers’ belongings at the crash site.

Malaysia issued an impassioned plea yesterday for the MH17 disaster site to be protected from tampering, saying evidence was being compromised in what it called a "betrayal of the lives that were lost".

Concerns are mounting over the integrity of the crash zone in rebel-held eastern Ukraine, with the government in Kiev accusing Moscow of helping pro-Russian separatist insurgents destroy evidence, AFP reported.

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"Malaysia is deeply concerned that the crash site has not been properly secured," Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai told reporters at a press conference yesterday.

"The integrity of the site has been compromised and there are indications that vital evidence has not been preserved in place."

This development came after accounts surfaced of looters descending onto the crash site and ransacking victims' possessions.

According to witnesses, many pieces of luggage that were pulled from the charred accident scene had already been opened and rifled through, USA Today reported.

The report added that the lack of security in the area likely encouraged the "heartless" ransacking.

It said that the scene has not been cordoned off and unidentified men were allowed to walk into the area.

Freelance journalist Demjen Doroschenko, who was at the crash site, told the Sun: "'They were rifling belongings with torches 50m away. Once they'd gone, I went over to the body where they had been and found wallets left open, purses empty and papers all over the ground. It's awful."

Meanwhile, a Ukraine government statement said pro-Russia rebels removed 38 bodies to a morgue in the insurgent-controlled Donetsk where "specialists with clearly Russian accents" were to conduct autopsies.

It also said separatist forces were blocking access to the site for Ukrainian investigators and international observers, AFP reported.

"Terrorists with the support of Russia are trying to destroy proof of this international crime," the statement said.


This article was first published on July 21, 2014.
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