MH17 black boxes recovered after secret talks

00:25, Jul 22 2014
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A pro-Russian separatist stands at the crash site of MH17 near the settlement of Grabovo in Ukraine's Donetsk region.
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A man looks at debris from Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 which landed in a field of sunflowers in Rassipnoye, Ukraine.
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Coal miners take a break after searching fields looking for remnants of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in Grabovo, Ukraine.
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A man shows a piece of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 which landed in his garden in Rassipnoye, Ukraine.
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Wreckage is pictured at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the Ukraine settlement of Grabovo.
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Flowers and mementos lie on wreckage at the crash site of MH17, near the Ukraine settlement of Grabovo.
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Mementos placed at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 near the Ukraine settlement of Rozspyne in the Donetsk region.
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Wreckage is pictured at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the Ukraine settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region.
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Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 wreckage near the Ukraine settlement of Grabovo.
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Flowers, candles and other tributes in front of the Netherlands embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, in memory of the victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
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Members of the Ukrainian Emergency Ministry carry a body near the wreckage at the crash site of MH17, near the settlement of Grabovo.
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People look at flowers and messages left by local residents for MH17 crash victims outside the Dutch embassy in Kiev, Ukraine.
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Kiev residents light a candle for victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, outside the Dutch embassy in Ukraine.
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People look at flowers and messages left by Kiev residents for victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, outside Ukraine's Dutch embassy.
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Members of the Ukrainian Emergency Ministry carry a body at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the settlement of Grabovo.
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A pro-Russian separatist stands at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the settlement of Grabovo in Ukraine's Donetsk region.
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A pro-Russian separatist guards the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
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Flowers and mementos are left for the victims of the plane crash.
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Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and members of a forensic team inspect the remains of victims from the downed flight MH17, at a railway station in the eastern Ukrainian town of Torez.
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Bodies are loaded into a truck at the crash site by Ukrainian Emergencies Ministry staff.
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A pro-Russia rebel guards a train containing the bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines crash.
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Senior Ukrainian separatist leader Aleksander Borodai gestures as a rebel places the black boxes of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on a desk.
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A satellite image shows the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in Ukraine, dangerously close to a village.
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A guard stands on the train carrying the remains of MH17's victims as it arrives in the city of Kharkiv after days of delays.
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Armed pro-Russian separatists watch as monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and Malaysian air crash investigators inspect the crash site.

The black boxes from downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 are being sent back to Kuala Lumpur after secret talks to secure them overnight.

A senior separatist leader, Aleksander Borodai, handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts in the city of Donetsk.

''Here they are, the black boxes,'' Borodai told a room packed with journalists at the headquarters of his self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic as an armed rebel placed the boxes on a desk.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17
Malaysia Airlines flight 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17
The crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17
Emergencies Ministry members work at the site of a Malaysia Airlines plane crash near Grabovo, Ukraine.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17
Emergencies Ministry members work at the site of a Malaysia Airlines plane crash near Grabovo, Ukraine.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17
Wreckage from Malaysia Airlines flight 17 smoulders at the main crash site.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17
Wreckage from Malaysia Airlines flight 17 smoulders at the main crash site.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17
Wreckage from Malaysia Airlines flight 17 smoulders at the main crash site.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17
Wreckage from Malaysia Airlines flight 17 smoulders at the main crash site.
Part of the wreckage of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 is seen after it crashed near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region.
Part of the wreckage of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 is seen after it crashed near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region.
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The site of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region.
The upper floor of Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport is reserved for family and relatives of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
The upper floor of Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport is reserved for family and relatives of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
Ukraine plane crash
An Emergencies Ministry member walks at the site of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash in Ukraine.
People bring flowers and candles to the Dutch embassy to commemorate the victims of the Malaysia Airlines plane crash.
People bring flowers and candles to the Dutch embassy to commemorate the victims of the Malaysia Airlines plane crash.
Family members of passengers on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on a bus bringing them to a separate area at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport.
Family members of passengers on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on a bus bringing them to a separate area at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and other high-ranked officials observe a minute's silence for victims of the Malaysia Airlines plane crash.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and other high-ranked officials observe a minute's silence for victims of the Malaysia Airlines plane crash.
US President Barack Obama speaks about the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, during a visit to Wilmington, Delaware.
US President Barack Obama speaks about the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, during a visit to Wilmington, Delaware.
Armed pro-Russian separatists stand at the site of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo.
Armed pro-Russian separatists stand at the site of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo.
Talking to reporters, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (R) demands swift justice for those responsible for the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, as Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein looks on.
Talking to reporters, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (R) demands swift justice for those responsible for the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, as Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein looks on.
Schiphol Chief Executive Jos Nijhuis, Malaysia Airlines Senior Vice President Huib Gorter (middle) and Malaysia's ambassador to the Netherlands Fauziah Binti Mohd Taib at a news conference on flight MH17 at Schiphol Airport.
Schiphol Chief Executive Jos Nijhuis, Malaysia Airlines Senior Vice President Huib Gorter (middle) and Malaysia's ambassador to the Netherlands Fauziah Binti Mohd Taib at a news conference on flight MH17 at Schiphol Airport.
Smoke rises from the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
Smoke rises from the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
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A firefighter stands as flames burst amongst the wreckages of the MH17.
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The wreckage smoulders at the site of the MH17 crash.
An Emergencies Ministry member walks at the site of the Malaysia Airlines plane crash.
An Emergencies Ministry member walks through the site of the Malaysia Airlines plane crash.
A woman who said she believed her sister was on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, cries as she waits for more information.
A woman who said she believed her sister was on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, cries as she waits for more information.
A father and daughter light candles at the Dutch embassy to commemorate the victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17.
A father and daughter light candles at the Dutch embassy to commemorate the victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17.
People light candles at the Malaysian embassy for victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17.
People light candles at the Dutch embassy for victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17.
People place candles and flowers at the Dutch embassy for victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17.
People place candles and flowers at the Dutch embassy for victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17.
A family member cries as she receives the news of the ill fated flight MH17.
A family member cries as she receives the news of the ill fated flight MH17.
A Malaysian woman who had a relative on board the Malaysian Airlines MH17 reacts to messages on her mobile phone as she waits to travel to Kuala Lumpur.
A Malaysian woman who had a relative on board the Malaysian Airlines MH17 waits to travel to Kuala Lumpur.
Relatives of passengers onboard the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Relatives of passengers onboard the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
A father and daughter light candles at the Dutch embassy to commemorate the victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17.
Malaysian Siti Dina weeps after seeing her daughter's name on the list of passengers on board MH17.
A security officer passes a Malaysia Airlines advertisement at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia.
A security officer passes a Malaysia Airlines advertisement at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang
A man (in blue) whose family was onboard the Malaysia Airlines MH17 consoles another who had just arrived with her wife to receive confirmation that their daughter's family was onboard the plane, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
A man (in blue) whose family was onboard the Malaysia Airlines MH17 consoles another who had just arrived with her wife to receive confirmation that their daughter's family was onboard the plane, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
A relative of a passenger onboard the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) MH17 is assisted by MAS staff members as she leaves Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
A relative of a passenger onboard the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) MH17 is assisted by MAS staff members as she leaves Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Malaysian Siti Dina speaks to media as she arrives to confirm news that her daughter was on board Malaysia Airlines MH17 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Malaysian Siti Dina speaks to media as she arrives to confirm news that her daughter was on board Malaysia Airlines MH17 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
AIDS Conference
Members of the public walk past signage on the Princes Bridge for the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia. Twenty-seven Australians and more than 100 AIDS activists, researchers, health workers and delegates bound for the major conference were among those aboard MH17.
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Relatives of passengers on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
A journalist takes photographs at the site of Thursday's Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash
A journalist takes photographs at the site of Thursday's Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash.
Members of the Ukrainian Emergency Ministry search for bodies near the site of Thursday's Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash.
Members of the Ukrainian Emergency Ministry search for bodies near the site of Thursday's Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash.
Members of the Ukrainian Emergency Ministry search for bodies near the site of Thursday's Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash.
Members of the Ukrainian Emergency Ministry search for bodies near the site of Thursday's Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash.
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A woman lights candles at a memorial for victims of the downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in Kuala Lumpur.
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Pro-Russian separatists look at passengers' belongings at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
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A pro-Russian separatist holds a stuffed toy found at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
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A flower placed on wreckage is pictured at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.
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A man blocks access to the scene of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 as emergency personnel remove the bodies of passengers.

Both sides then signed a document, which Borodai said was a protocol to finalise the procedure after lengthy talks with the Malaysians.

''I can see that the black boxes are intact, although a bit damaged. In good condition,'' Colonel Mohamed Sakri of Malaysian National Security Council said in extending his thanks to ''His Excellency Mr Borodai'' for passing on the recorders.

Borodai also said a train carrying the remains of the victims of the Malaysia Airlines plane catastrophe has reached Donetsk. It is on its way to Kharkiv, 300 km north-west. 

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M17 victims
Australian siblings Evie, Mo and Otis Maslin and their grandfather Nick were killed on MH17.
M17 victims
Miguel, Mika and Shaka Panduwinata with their mother Samira Calehr. The brothers were all on the doomed flight.
M17 victims
The Maslin children were returning to Perth with Norris after a family holiday in Europe.
M17 victims
Robert Ayley with a rottweiler during his trip to Europe. Robert was one of the victims of the MH17 crash.
M17 victims
Mary Menke of Mallacoota, one of the Australian victims of the MH17 crash.
M17 victims
Liam Sweeney, 29, who was on his way to New Zealand following the West Ham football team.
M17 victims
Jack Alder, 60, who was on his way to New Zealand following the Newcastle United team.

After cautiously refusing to blame the pro-Russian rebels for shooting down MH17, Malaysia's prime minister Najib Razak used secret diplomacy to reach an agreement for the transfer of the boxes as well as the bodies of those killed.

Under the agreement with Borodai, commander of the separatist forces in Donetsk, the bodies would be flown in a Dutch C-130 Hercules with Malaysian representatives to the Netherlands for identification.

Under the agreement international investigators will also be guaranteed safe access to the crash site near the Russian border in eastern Ukraine.

MH17 box black
VITAL CLUES: An emergency worker with what was said to be the MH17 flight recorder found at the crash site in Ukraine.

Najib has been criticised in Malaysia for failing to directly blame the separatists for bringing down the plane as anger grew across the country about the lack of dignity for the bodies, 43 of whom were Malaysians.

But he instead held a series of secret telephone calls with Borodai who is believed to have said he would only hand over the bodies and black boxes to Malaysia.

"In recent days there were times I wanted to give greater voice to the anger and grief that the Malaysian people feel," Najib said in a statement released early this morning.

Malaysia PM MH17
SECRET TALKS: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announces the two black boxes from MH17 will be handed over by Ukrainian rebels.

"But sometimes we must work quietly in the service of a better outcome," he said.

Najib stressed the agreement will depend on work and good faith by the separatists but added they have "so far given their co-operation.

He said only now can the investigation into the tragedy begin and the victims be given the "respect they deserve."

The prime minister has vowed to bring the Malaysian bodies home by next week, the end of the Muslim fast month, the most significant time of the year for Muslims.

Under Islam bodies are supposed to be buried within 24 hours.

"We need to know what caused the plane to crash and who was responsible for it so that justice can be done," Najib said.

Several Malaysian ministers, including transport minister Liow Tiong Lai, have been in Kiev helping to negotiate the agreement which achieved what more powerful nations, including Russia, had failed to achieve.

Malaysia was already mourning the loss on March 8 of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 that mysteriously veered thousands of kilometres off course and is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.

Malaysian ministers and Malaysia Airlines have had to fend off accusations that MH17 should not have been flying over the Ukraine war zone, saying it was a normal route that was kept open by Ukraine authorities.

Malaysia, a Muslim majority country, has been played a leading role in trying to negotiate peace deals for insurgencies in both the Philippines and Thailand.

The shooting down of MH17 was deeply personal for Najib whose step-grandmother was on the plane.

The pro-government New Straits Times in Kuala Lumpr welcomed the news that the bodies would be flown to Amsterdam with a front page headline "breakthrough."

Sydney Morning Herald