North families hope for closure as more bodies from MH17 tragedy returned

Two more military aircraft carrying remains of victims from the Malaysian plane disaster have arrived in the Netherlands

Barry and Marc Sweeney arriving back at Newcastle Airport
Barry and Marc Sweeney arriving back at Newcastle Airport

Two more military aircraft carrying remains of victims from the Malaysian plane disaster have arrived in the Netherlands.

Barry Sweeney, whose Newcastle United son Liam was among those killed on the flight, and his son Marc had been among hundreds of grieving relatives waiting at Eindhoven airport as planes carrying 44 victims of the Malaysia Airlines tragedy arrived.

They arrived back in Newcastle yesterday after leaving a wreath at Schipol Airport in Amsterdam in memory of his son and fellow supporter John Alder.

He said: “I’m going to spend time with my wife. We’re never going to get back to normal but let’s move on towards closure.”

All 298 people aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 - most of them Dutch citizens - were killed when the plane was shot down on July 17. US officials say the Boeing 777 was probably shot down by a missile from territory held by pro-Russian rebels, likely by accident.

The first bodies arrived in the Netherlands on Wednesday and were met by Dutch King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima and hundreds of relatives. The two planes yesterday brought a total of 74 more coffins back to the Netherlands.

Dutch investigators yesterday gave permission for what it called “local parties” to move wreckage at the site in order to recover remaining victims. Conditions at the site, spread across farm fields in open countryside, have made recovery and investigation a slow and sometimes chaotic process, with rebel gunmen controlling the area and at times hindering access.

Patricia Zorko, head of the National Police Unit that includes the Dutch national forensic team, said some 200 experts, including 80 from overseas, were working at a military barracks on the outskirts of the central city of Hilversum to identify the dead. Around the world some 1,000 people are involved in the process, which also includes gathering information from next of kin.

Staff will “examine the bodies, describe the bodies, take dental information, DNA and put all the information together in the computer and compare this information with the information they gathered from the families in the last days,” police spokesman Ed Kraszewski said. “Then we have to see if there is a match.”

Meanwhile a man is to appear in court accused of posting offensive messages on Twitter about MH17 victims John Alder and Liam Sweeney.

Mitchell Tace Chapman, 18, of Pegwood Road in Sunderland, has been charged with making a malicious communication - offensive message - and is due to appear before Sunderland Magistrates Court on August 11.

The charge follows remarks posted on Twitter relating to the John Alder and Liam Sweeney.

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