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07.00 21 Jul 2014


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Updated 17.52

The Malaysian prime minister has said his country has made a deal to receive the two black boxes from downed flight MH17.

Najib Razak told a press conference is Kuala Lumpur that he spoke to Alexander Borodai - the self-proclaimed prime minister of the pro-Russian separatist Donetsk region - who agreed to hand the boxes over to a Malaysian team later tonight.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Razak has said he has been given assurances that independent, international investigators will be given full access to the crash site to begin a full investigation.

The agreement will also see the bodies of 282 passengers transferred by train to the the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, where they will be handed over to representatives from the Netherlands.

The Russian Defence Ministry has claimed a Ukrainian military plane flew within three to five km of flight MH17 just before the crash. Moscow also denied supplying pro-Russian rebels with BUK missile systems or any other weapons.

It said it detected the Ukrainian SU-25 combat jet on radar and noticed an increase in radar activity just before the Malaysian Airlines plane carrying 298 people was destroyed.

The airliner veered off course above Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine, and the reason will only be learned from its flight data recorders, the Kremlin said.

It also said Ukrainian air defence forces had three or four battalions of BUK-M1 systems on combat duty on the day of the crash.

The claims came after Ukraine's Prime Minister said Vladimir Putin is "on the side of the devil" as he reiterated Kiev's view that Russia had a clear role in shooting down the airliner.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk said the Boeing 777 was probably brought down by a BUK-M1 missile launcher.

"This system could not be operated by drunk pro-Russian terrorists. There were professional people" he told a news conference. He also said Kiev is willing to hand over the probe into the atrocity to its Western partners.

Meanwhile Kiev has claimed that pro-Russian rebels have tampered with the black box flight recorders retrieved from the Malaysian airliner.

Flowers are left outside the Netherlands Embassy in Dublin

Deputy prime minister Volodymyr Groysman told a news conference that the rebels would give the flight recorders to international aviation authorities, but added "There is information that the recorders were in their hands all these days and they did certain things to them."

Asked whether he thought the rebels had tampered with the recorders, Mr Groysman concurred. 

There are conflicting reports about whether the refrigeration systems on the trains carrying the bodies are working. Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other for shooting the plane down.

Books of condolence open in Dublin

The Lord Mayor of Dublin and the Ukrainian Ambassador to Ireland were among the first people to sign a book of condolence for the victims of Friday's Malaysia Airlines crash.

The book opened at Irish Embassy on the Merrion Road in Ballsbridge in Dublin - and another has now opened at Dublin City Hall.

These people were some of the first to pay their respects.

Meanwhile, the Irish victim of the Malaysian Airlines crash will be among those remembered. Mother of two Edel Mahady was originally from Palmerstown in Dublin.

In the Netherlands, Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima are meeting relatives of the 193 Dutch people who died on the plane.

The pair have been criticised for not attending memorial services for the victims on Sunday. Their aides are refusing to say what they were doing instead.

Earlier, the Russian President vowed to "do everything to ensure the security and safety" of experts investigating the disaster.

A book of condolences has also opened in Dublin City Hall

Mr Putin said "all people" in Ukraine are responsible for the tragedy.

However, Mr Yatsenyuk said "I do not expect anything from the Russian government...Putin should understand that it's enough already. This is not a conflict between Ukraine and Russia. It is an international conflict".

He added "Russia is on the dark side, on the side of the devil".

US Secretary of State John Kerry said intelligence assessments had provided overwhelming evidence of Russian complicity in the downing of MH17.

Mr Kerry also demanded Russia take responsibility for the actions of pro-Moscow rebels in Eastern Ukraine, branding their mishandling of victims' bodies as "grotesque".

Mr Putin has promised Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte he will help retrieve bodies and black boxes from the crash site.

The UN Security Council will today vote on a resolution to condemn the downing of the aircraft.

The resolution, drafted by Australia, demands that those responsible for bringing the plane down will be held accountable, and that armed groups do not compromise the integrity of the crash site.

Speaking earlier, the US President Barack Obama said the behaviour by separatists in Ukraine has raised serious questions.


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