THE HAGUE: Dutch police have taken from a journalist items, including possible human remains, which he found at the crash site of flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine, prosecutors said Sunday.
Freelancer Michel Spekkers was met by police as he returned to Schiphol airport late Saturday after visiting the region and writing an article about his discovery at the site.
The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 passenger jet was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur killing all 298 on board, most of them Dutch citizens.
A Dutch-led criminal investigation concluded in September that a BUK missile, transported from Russia, slammed into the plane after being fired from a field in a part of war-torn Ukraine then controlled by pro-Russian rebels. But it stopped short of saying who pulled the trigger.
Prosecutors said in a statement Sunday that Spekkers had “refused to hand over photographic and film material from the crash site” when he arrived at the airport near Amsterdam.
The material including “various bags with metal parts and an object which may be human remains” would now “be examined as soon as possible.”
Spekkers said in a Tweet late Saturday he had arranged to “voluntarily” hand over the items, but in the end there was “a total seizure” of his possessions including his camera, telephone and laptop.
He wrote in the daily Noordhollands Dagblat he decided to visit the crash site during a trip to Donetsk for a documentary about daily life there, after being told that debris was still strewn around the area.
He described seeing things lying in the snow – including a piece of bone – saying he had videoed everything, labelled some of it and placed it into sealed ziplock bags.
Writing in the Dutch provincial daily, he said he had “an uncomfortable feeling of helplessness”, wondering why such items were still there, and whether Dutch authorities would have left the site like that had the crash happened on Dutch soil.
He decided to bring back “a small number” of things in the hope that “there may be some answers to outstanding questions.” – AFP