Kiwi police to join MH17 identification teams

MYLES HUME
Last updated 13:08 24/07/2014
Rob Ayley
Rob Ayley, with wife Sharlene.
Mary Menke
Mary Menke was killed alongside her husband on the fated flight.

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Three New Zealand police body identification experts are heading to join the international effort to identify victims of the flight MH17 disaster.

The trio of Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) specialists have been invited by the Interpol Secretariat General (IPSG) Headquarters in Lyon, France, which is coordinating the identification process in the Netherlands.

Australian-based Kiwi Mary Menke and her Dutch husband Gerry were among the 298 who perished in the crash when the Boeing 777 was shot down over Ukraine six days ago, along with British-born New Zealander Robert Ayley.

The bodies of many victims were being transported to the Netherlands, with the first 40 arriving in wooden coffins this morning.

"We are pleased to be able to contribute to the international response effort, which is testament the skills and experience of our staff in the DVI field," Superintendent national operations manager Barry Taylor said.

"New Zealand Police has internationally recognised expertise in this field gained through events such as its work in Thailand following the Boxing Day tsunami, the Victoria bush fires and more recently the Christchurch earthquake."

Taylor said they were a signatory to the international DVI protocols which are set by global police organisation Interpol.

"DVI work is an exacting, challenging process which takes time, but our staff will be very focused on working with their international colleagues to identify the victims and help their grieving families."

According to Interpol, the process of identifying victims of major disasters was rarely possible by visual recognition.

Comparison of fingerprints, dental records or DNA samples with samples stored in databases or taken from victims' personal effects are often required to obtain a conclusive identification.

The New Zealanders would join an international team headed by the Dutch Authorities at Hilversum.

They were expected to be there for three weeks, with the possibility of second three week rotation of a further three staff.

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