The Hague, the Netherlands – Europol is continuing its support to disaster victim identification (DVI) operations on the ground in Ukraine following the loss of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on July 17. Assistance has also been given to the Dutch commander in charge of the second phase of the operation on the ground in Ukraine where the main focus is shifting towards air crash investigation.
“Europol is offering every possible support to the Dutch authorities with the aim to get to the bottom of this horrendous crime. The working conditions for the people on the ground have been extremely difficult, but it is my hope that this will soon change for the better. However, it is clear that any investigation will remain very challenging as the crash site has not been treated as a crime scene by the persons in control of the area.” says Will van Gemert, Deputy Director and head of Operations Department at Europol.
So far daily coordination meetings with liaison officers from the countries who are affected directly by the crash of MH 17 have been held at the Europol headquarters in The Hague. A Europol analyst has been part of the INTERPOL Incident Response Team (IRT) team in Kharkiv which has been on the ground since July 20.
A secure line via the Europol mobile office is in place in Kharkiv, which makes it possible to securely exchange information and to directly have access to the databases at the Europol headquarters. A second mobile office has been deployed to Ukraine. These communication channels also make it possible for the involved countries to exchange information among themselves securely.
Europol has also been involved in assessing the local security and safety situation concerning access to the area in Kharkiv where the DVI team is working. Furthermore Europol has contributed to the first efforts to map the operation area, recording the position of items of interest, for later use in the investigation.
Tomorrow Europol will participate in a meeting hosted by Eurojust in The Hague where judicial aspects of the investigation into the loss of MH 17 will be discussed.