Liow repeats call to protect integrity of MH17 crash site

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PUTRAJAYA: Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai has reiterated the call to protect the integrity of the MH17 crash site in eastern Ukraine to allow a comprehensive investigation into the incident.

He said the crash site, about 40km from the Ukraine-Russian border, must be treated as a criminal investigation area.

“The crash site to this date is still an area of conflict,” he said at a press conference yesterday.

“I would like to stress here that the crash site is a criminal investigation area and it is imperative that we protect the integrity of the crash site and allow the investigation to proceed.”

Liow had earlier read the findings from the preliminary report of the investigation into the crash by the Dutch Safety Board (DSB), which showed that the Malaysia Airlines flight broke up in the air as the result of structural damage caused by high-energy objects which had penetrated the aircraft from the outside.

Flight MH17, which was carrying 298 passengers and crew, had departed from Amsterdam bound for Kuala Lumpur on July 17, and was flying at an altitude of 10km over Ukrainian airspace when it was said to have been shot down by a surface-to-air missile.

The crash site has been identified as a troubled area following disputes between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists, who are also believed to have been responsible for shooting down the plane.

Safety and security issues cropped up after separatists blocked access to the crash site, making it difficult for the recovery and investigation teams.

Liow also noted that the government, led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, is striving to facilitate safe passage into the crash site to locate more remains and personal effects as well as complete the probe into the incident.

He said this is important in order to come up with more detailed findings into the crash.

The minister, however, refused to speculate whether the “high-energy objects” stated in the DSB report could be missiles or other objects.

“That’s the reason why we need to enter the crash site. Our PM is working closely with the international community so that we can have safe passage into the crash site to analyse and collect more data from the wreckage,” he said.

“I also call on the international community and all those involved in the Ukrainian conflict to seek justice and find the perpetrators who caused this brutal act of aggression.” — The Malaysian Insider

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on September 10, 2014.