Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17: RCMP officer heads to aid Dutch investigation
Officer will head to Netherlands Sunday, Minister of National Defence Rob Nicholson says
An RCMP officer will travel to the Netherlands tomorrow to determine how Canada can help Dutch law enforcement investigate what downed Flight MH17, said Canada's Minister of National Defence.
Minister Rob Nicholson expressed his condolences for the loss of the Dutch during a Saturday telephone conversation with Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, the Dutch Minister of Defence.
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The Malaysian Airlines plane was shot down in eastern Ukraine last week, killing all the people on board, including 194 Dutch nationals and one Canadian.
"The criminal act of shooting down a civilian airliner is a direct product of Russia's military aggression and illegal occupation of Ukraine," said Minister Rob Nicholson.
"We call upon pro-Russian forces to immediately withdraw from the area and let Ukrainian and international authorities complete their investigative and forensic work unimpeded."
Canada will help the Netherlands investigate the crash, he told Hennis-Plasschaert, starting with Sunday's deployment of the RCMP officer.
Nicholson offered to send Canadian civil aviation and criminal investigation experts to aid the ongoing recovery operations and investigation. It is unclear if the Netherlands has accepted the offer.
1st family of MH17 victim visits crash site
Officials have urged families of those who were on board the Malaysian airliner not to visit the crash site, but the parents of a woman passenger travelled to the crash Saturday, arriving from Amsterdam after a journey from their home in Perth, Australia.
George and Angela Dyczynski came to the war zone to honour their 25-year-old daughter, Fatima, a passenger on the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777.
"This is the first time we've seen a family come here," CBC's Susan Ormiston reported from the scene, where she talked to the couple. "They were cautioned not to come, that it was dangerous and difficult to get here, but they drove out with local drivers.
"They said they wanted to meet with a rebel leader, someone whom they can ask some questions."
Fatima Dyczynski, who was trained in astronautical engineering, was moving from Germany to Perth to start an internship at IBM before going on to the Netherlands for further study. She and her parents were recently granted permanent residency in Australia, according to media reports.
They last spoke to Fatima shortly before she boarded the flight for Kuala Lumpur in Amsterdam on July 17.
George Dyczynski wore a T-shirt with his daughter's picture and the words "Fatima We Love You" as he and his wife placed a large, colourful bouquet of flowers at the scene.
"They aren't angry and they don't blame anyone," Ormiston said. "They wanted to be here to see for themselves what had happened."
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Two-hundred and ninety-eight people on the plane died. A total of 193 Dutch nationals and 43 Malaysians were on the passenger list. Another victim was 24-year-old medical student Andrei Anghel, from Ajax, Ont.
The first bodies recovered from the scene were returned to the Netherlands on Wednesday.
On Saturday, two cargo planes flew 38 more coffins carrying victims of the disaster out of eastern Ukraine to a forensic centre in the Netherlands for identification.
The planes took off from Kharkiv, a government-controlled city where the bodies have been brought from the crash site in territory held by pro-Russian separatists fighting the Ukrainian government.
U.S. and Ukrainian officials say the plane was shot down by a missile from rebel territory, likely by mistake.
International observers have said there are still remains at the crash site.
With files from The Associated Press and Reuters