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Delay in return of MH17 bodies angers Dutch

Media publish bereaved father's letter as train laden with victims' bodies heads to Kharkiv en route to the Netherlands.

Last updated: 21 Jul 2014 16:19
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Anger is growing in the Netherlands. with the bodies yet to be returned from the eastern Ukraine [EPA]

A bereaved Dutch father has written an open letter to whoever shot down flight MH17, "thanking" them for killing his 17-year-old daughter Elsemiek, "my dear and only child".

The letter comes as anger grows in the Netherlands over the fact that the dead have yet to be returned from the eastern Ukraine, with many deploring the chaotic handling of the bodies and the crash site.

Thursday's downing of the Malaysia Airline passenger jet left 298 people, including 193 Dutch, dead. The crash has been widely blamed on a missile fired by pro-Kremlin separatists allegedly supplied by Russia, but Russia blames the Ukraine government.

"Thank you very much Mr [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, separatist leaders or the Ukrainian government, for murdering my dear and only child," Hans de Borst, the bereaved father, said in the letter published by Dutch media on Monday.

"Suddenly she's gone. Shot out of the sky in a foreign war-torn country."

Elsemiek was going to finish school next year with her best friends Julia and Marine [who were not on the flight], and she was doing well.

She wanted to study civil engineering at Delft University, and she was really excited."

"I hope that you're proud to have destroyed her young life and that you can look at yourself in the mirror," wrote the bereaved father.

"I hope that you will read this message soon, maybe translated into English [which you, as intelligent men, can read].Thanks again!"

Borst's letter was published as Ukraine announced late on Monday that all the bodies taken from the crash site would be taken to the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, before being transported to the Netherlands.

"All the bodies have been loaded onto a special train in refrigerated wagons and we expect after 19.00pm (1700 GMT)
the train will set off for ... Kharkiv," Volodymyr Groysman, the deputy prime minister, told a news conference.

"All the bodies will be taken to the Netherlands."

Dutch investigators had earlier on Monday inspected the bodies recovered from the downed airliner which had been loaded on a train under rebel control, an AFP reporter said.

Each of the train wagons carrying a total of more than 200 corpses was opened and examined by two men wearing masks and headlights.

"I think the storage of the bodies is [of] good quality," Peter Van Vliet, the forensic expert leading the Dutch team, said after examining the corpses.

In the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, prime minister, had said the priority was to move the bodies to Ukraine-controlled territory.

"The first aim is to get the trains out and let them go to Ukrainian-controlled territory, preferably Kharkiv," Rutte said, referring to a major city about 300km away which has remained firmly in Ukraine's hands.

"The separatists have said that international observers must be present when the train leaves ... the Dutch experts are international observers ... they can fulfil that role," Rutte said.

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