Anger at pro-Russian separatists grows as plane crash victim's bodies manhandled
What's happening at the crash site of MH17 that was downed by a surface to air missile on Thursday, is bizarre and nauseating. As this Destroying vital evidence that could answer many questions.points out, pro-Russian separatists have prevented any aviation experts from visiting the site, and the OSCE monitors have not been given full access.
What's more, the bodies of passengers have been unceremoniously moved and piled in railroad cars, causing anguish throughout Europe from families of the lost.
The small OSCE mission on the scene is made up merely of monitors. Not a single international aviation expert or investigator has visited the site, as evidence disappears. Until Sunday lunchtime, nobody even knew where the body bags from the site had been taken, with dark rumours swirling. Even now, the OSCE monitors have had to take the word of the local emergency services that 196 bodies have been found so far.
"We have not been able to count them as that would be too difficult in this situation," said Alexander Hug, the deputy chief of the OSCE mission, as he was circled by rebels with guns.
Michael Bociurkiw, the spokesman for the mission, added: "Going inside the wagons is impossible without special equipment. The stench is very, very bad."
The OSCE monitors are fully at the mercy of the rebels, and were only told of the fate of the bodies on Sunday: "We are waiting for the rebels to call us and tell us what we can do," one had said over breakfast in a Donetsk hotel earlier in the day. "They are heavily armed and we are unarmed, so we don't have much of a choice."
At the crash site, the rebel fighters who had been stationed there and barred access on previous days had gone, but chaos still reigned. Volunteer miners and local emergency workers continued to find bodies in the corn and sunflower fields throughout the day on Sunday, and stacked them by the side of the road in thick plastic bags: black for more or less whole bodies, and green for small parts. By the afternoon at least 18 freshly bagged corpses lined the road.
There was a complete lack of control over access to the site. The world's television media seemed oblivious to the irony of criticising the chaos while contributing to it – wading through fields to get a better shot with little regard for the human and material debris below. Sky had to apologise after one of its reporters rummaged through a suitcase on camera for effect.
Elsewhere, items had been moved and piled up by the search teams on the side of the road – suitcases stacked next to each other; and three football biographies, of Kevin Keegan, Ron Atkinson and Nigel Clough, lined up in a neat row.
The upshot of all of this is that vital evidence needed to discover what exactly happened to the air craft is being disturbed and even destroyed. Most observers believe this is deliberate, as the pro-Russian separatists seek to sever all links between them and the Buk battery that fired the deadly missile. It is probable that the exact battery that engaged in the action has alreadd been returned to Russia who will make sure it is never found.
The UN will meet today and pass a resolution ordering Russia to force the militias to cooperate in the investigation. Putin will claim once again that he doesn't have that kind of pull with the separatist forces. But with Russian special forces attached to just about every rebel unit, that contention doesn't even pass the smell test.
It is in Putin's interest to keep Eastern Ukraine in chaos. Obviously, the way to change that calculus is to apply sanctions that are so painful that Putin must back down. But the Europeans are split on how draconian the next round of sanctions on Russia should be, and President Obama has been relatively silent on the issue, preferring to let Germany take the lead.
Since it is unlikely that a smoking gun pointing to Russian involvement in the shootdown will be found, Putin will probably get away with this crime - as he gets away with everything else.