Rebels Have Stolen the Bodies of 38 MH17 Victims

by Nuzha Nuseibeh

The investigation into the MH17 plane crash continued to be rocky on Saturday, with Ukrainian officials accusing the pro-Russian rebels of destroying evidence — including stealing dozens of bodies from the crash site and taking them to a morgue in Donetsk in order to perform their own autopsies. It's the second day in a row that the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has been hampered in its investigation into the crash because of the armed separatists, and the situation is not looking hopeful.

So far, federal emergency workers have managed to find 186 of the 298 victims who were aboard the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which crashed into East Ukraine on Thursday. Though the separatists had said on Friday that they would allow the victims' bodies to be taken out of their territory, on Saturday, the Ukrainian government accused the rebels of stealing 38 bodies overnight and taking them to rebel-held Donetsk. Ukraine's government said in the statement:

The Government was informed that the terrorists moved 38 bodies of the victims to the morgue in Donetsk, where the “experts” with Russian accent claimed that they intend to perform autopsies. The terrorist groups are also seeking to obtain large cargo transport to move the remnants of the aircraft to Russia.

The Ukrainian government also said they were still trying to figure out how to get all of their investigators into the wreckage, which is still currently being guarded by the armed separatists."The people who are working for our side in the place of the tragedy do not have free movement,” said Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council. “They are under control of the terrorists, who are taking all the evidence away from them.”

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Making matters more chaotic is that plane's black boxes — which would go a long way in revealing just who fired the missile that brought down MH17 — are still nowhere to be found. (Although at first the separatists had claimed to have had them, it turned out that they'd gotten mixed up about which piece of equipment they had found.)

As it stands, there's still no official word regarding the missile's origin, and the U.S. is being wary about pointing fingers at any one group directly. On Friday, President Barack Obama said that the “shot was taken in territory controlled by separatists,” but he stopped short of actually blaming the rebels. It's basically a waiting game until more evidence is allowed to be found and examined.