OPINION: The international community is rightfully aghast at what is transpiring following the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in an apparent act of terrorism.
That a civilian aircraft was apparently targeted and shot down by a ground-to-air missile in eastern Ukraine is appalling. But the horror is being exacerbated in this volatile war zone, where it is clear that human life and international conventions hold little value.
There are disturbing reports of indignities being performed on the bodies of the 298 victims, and of looting.
This is a crime scene. What should be an international operation to forensically examine the massive crash site and return the bodies to their loved ones is being prevented by hostile thugs with guns who are contaminating the scene.
There are real fears that they are preventing scrutiny of the wreckage because they have something to hide, and that the doomed airliner's black box recorders which hold information vital to establishing the precise cause of this tragedy will be tampered with.
Russia's silence so far is unacceptable.
It is well within President Vladimir Putin's power to order the pro-Russian separatists who are fighting Ukrainians to back off and allow a peaceful international recovery effort. His refusal to do this so far suggests Russia knows more about the incident than it is prepared to let on.
The BUK-M1 missile system believed to have been used to shoot down MH17 is sophisticated hardware that requires skilled operators.
There are reports of BUK-M1 missile launchers being moved across the border from Ukraine to Russia since the plane went down on Friday, and that the plane's black box recorders may have gone to Moscow as well.
If the reports are accurate, the trail that leads to the perpetrators of this heinous crime is being well covered.
A systematic investigation of the site should have begun immediately. Instead, days later, the victims and their grieving families are being treated with contempt. Only Putin can bring order to the confusion and chaos, and allow justice to be served. But perhaps that is the last thing he wants.
- The Southland Times
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