Malaysia Airlines crash: 'Victims found in wreckage died days before plane took off claims rebel commander'
| Jul 19th 2014 | 3 min read
Eastern Ukraine: A pro-Russian rebel commander has reportedly claimed that victims found in the wreckage of Flight MH17 had actually died days before the aircraft took off.
Rebel website Russkaya Vesna, said Igor Girkin, also known as Strelkov, was told that "a significant number of the bodies were drained of blood and reeked of decomposition," when they were discovered.
Girkin was reportedly one of the rebels heard laughing in video footage which showed a smoke plume rising into the sky following the crash.
Meanwhile Washington and Kiev have called on Russia to bring about a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine so investigators can access the wreckage of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17.
During a phone call between US Vice President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko the pair agreed "that as the party responsible for arming the separatists, Russia needed to publicly call on the [them] to lay down their weapons and grant immediate access to international and Ukrainian investigators."
Barack Obama last night demanded immediate action from Russian president Vladimir Putin as three Russians were blamed for shooting down Flight MH17.
The US President described the deaths as a tragedy of “unspeakable proportions” and insisted there must be a full independent criminal inquiry.
Mr Obama told Putin it was time for him to step in and stop the violence in the war-torn eastern Ukraine.
In a strong message to Putin, Mr Obama said: “We don’t have time for propaganda. We don’t have time for games. When terrible events like this occur, the international community must stand on the side of justice.”
He added: “We are going to make sure that the truth is out.”
The news comes as it was revealed that British experts will fly to Ukraine to join the investigation into the downing of Flight MH17.
Six investigators from the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch will assist the probe into how the plane came to crash, killing 298 people including 10 Britons.
The Metropolitan Police is also liaising with other national forces over the possibility of sending specialist officers to the country to assist with the recovery, identification and repatriation of victims.
Among the dead British nationals were student Richard Mayne, Newcastle United Fans John Alder and Liam Sweeney, and WHO spokesman Glenn Thomas who was one of 108 Aids experts on their way to a conference in Australia.
There was also Ben Pocock, a second year international business student on his way to Australia for a year abroad as part of his degree; and helicopter pilot Cameron Dalziel, 43, who lived in Malaysia and had been doing some training in the Netherlands.
There has been international condemnation of the attack and investigations continue to find out who fired the rocket.
Russia has warned against any attempts to prejudge an investigation into what brought down MH17, and raised questions about the role of Ukrainianaviation authorities.
At a somber emergency meeting of the UN Security Council that began with ambassadors standing for a moment of silence, Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin called for an "impartial, open investigation of what happened" on Thursday.
Ambassadors from most of the 11 countries who lost citizens in the incident told the council of their states’ shock and grief.
Churkin asked: "Why did the Ukrainian aviation dispatchers send a passenger flight to an area of military clashes? An area which was being used for carrying out strikes against civilian targets ... and where there were anti-aircraft systems working?"
"International law plans for the possibility of a timely closure by the state of areas that are dangerous for flights. It would seem that there would need to be an investigation not only of the disaster but also the extent to which the Ukrainian aviation authorities carried out their obligations."
Gaza death toll hits 314 as UN's Ban Ki-moon heads to regionFive bodies were pulled from a home hit by an Israeli air strike on southern Gaza on Saturday, hiking the death toll to 314 as UN chief Ban Ki-moon headed to the region to bolster truce efforts.
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