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Ukrainian Rebels Hand MH17 Black Boxes to Malaysian Investigators

Jul 21, 2014

Updated: July 22, 2014, 8:20 a.m. E.T.

Rebel forces handed over Flight 17’s black boxes to Malaysian investigators in the rebel stronghold of Donetsk on Monday, hours after Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak struck a deal with the separatists.

The leader of the investigative team reported that the boxes were in good condition, the BBC reports.

Najib announced on Monday that he had reached an agreement with the leader of a pro-Russian separatist group to return victims' bodies, hand over the jet's black boxes and let independent international investigators gain access the site where Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down last week.

A train containing remains of some of the bodies arrived in Ukraine's second city of Kharkiv early on Tuesday, as per the arrangement, and were due to be flown to Amsterdam. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said his government expects them to arrive on Wednesday, the Associated Press reports, and that the identification of some victims' bodies could be quick while others may take "weeks or even months."

Remains of Malaysian citizens will be flown home, Najib said.

The Malaysian leader announced in a Facebook post Tuesday that the final stipulation of the deal—a full investigation of the crash site—has yet to be fulfilled, but he called the agreement a "breakthrough."

"I am pleased to confirm that the first two conditions have now been met," Najib said. "We are closer to finding out what happened to [the] aircraft, and fulfilling our shared responsibility to those who lost lost their lives."

The prime minister said he and Alexander Borodai, the self-appointed "Prime Minister" of the "Donetsk People's Republic," had reached a deal on "securing evidence from the aircraft, launching an independent investigation and above all recovering the remains of those who lost their lives."

Najib said Monday that despite the tentative agreement, "there is work still to be done … which relies on continual communication in good faith." He called on all parties to "continue to work together to make sure this agreement will be honored," adding that "only then can victims be afforded the respect they deserve."

"For the families, nothing can undo this damage," said the Prime Minister, who reportedly lost a relative in the crash. "The lives taken cannot be given back. The dignity lost can't be regained. My heart reaches out to those whose loved ones were taken on MH17."

Borodai used a press conference before the handover of the black boxes to deny any involvement in the accident, The Guardian reports. Instead, he said, the Ukrainian government had "both the technical ability and the motive" to shoot down the plane.

Scenes from the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17

A woman cries during a religious service held by villagers in memory of the victims at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, July 22, 2014.
A woman cries during a religious service held by villagers in memory of the victims at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, July 22, 2014.Vadim Ghirda—AP
A woman cries during a religious service held by villagers in memory of the victims at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, July 22, 2014.
Members of a Dutch forensics team prepare to inspect rail cars where the bodies of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash victims were being held in Torez, Ukraine, July 21, 2014.
The bodies of victims of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 arrive at the Torez train station in the back of a truck to be loaded into a refrigerated train car on July 21, 2014 in Torez, Ukraine.
Local residents gather to watch as the bodies of victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 are removed from the scene of the crash on July 21, 2014 in Grabovo, Ukraine.
Personnel from the Ukrainian Emergencies Ministry load the bodies of victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 into a truck at the crash site on July 21, 2014 in Grabovo, Ukraine.
An armed pro-Russian separatists gestures as he blocks the way to the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the village of Grabove, in the region of Donetsk on July 20, 2014.
People search a wheat field for remains in the area of the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near the village of Hrabove, July 20, 2014.
Emergency Workers carry a body at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region July 19, 2014.
A rose lies on a plastic sheet covering a victim of a Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 plane which was downed on Thursday near the village of Rozsypne, in the Donetsk region July 18, 2014.
Miners inspect a piece of debris found in a field from an Air Malaysia plane on July 18, 2014 in Grabovka, Ukraine.
A group of miners prepare to search a field for debris and human remains from an Air Malaysia plane on July 18, 2014 in Grabovka, Ukraine.
A man looks at debris from an Air Malaysia plane crash on July 18, 2014 in Grabovka, Ukraine.
Self-proclaimed Prime Minister of the pro-Russian separatist "Donetsk People's Republic" Alexander Borodai stands as he arrives on the site of the crash of a malaysian airliner carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine, on July 17, 2014.
People walk amongst the debris at the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine, July 17, 2014.
People walk amongst the debris at the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine, July 17, 2014.
The site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash is seen near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, July 17, 2014.
An Emergencies Ministry member works at putting out a fire at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash in the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, July 17, 2014.
Ukraine Plane
The wreckage of the Malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed on July 17, 2014 near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine.
Luggages are pictured on July 17, 2014 on the site of the crash of the malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine.
A woman and child walk past the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine on Thursday, July 17, 2014.
The wreckage of the Malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine, July 17, 2014.
A woman cries during a religious service held by villagers in memory of the victims at the crash site of Malaysia Airlin
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Vadim Ghirda—AP
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