Dutch send military police to MH17 site

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Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte will send forty members of the Marechaussee military police to the Ukraine to help search for victims’ remains and assist in evidence collection. He told a press conference Thursday evening that they will not be armed.

The military unit will depart Eindhoven Airport in a C-130 Hercules aircraft sometime after 6 p.m. local time on Friday, broadcaster NOS reported. It has not been announced where they will land.

Additionally, 23 more Dutch investigators currently at a staging area in Kharkiv, Ukraine will travel directly to the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash site in the Donetsk region. The Marechaussee has been assigned to support the forensics team.

Sending the Marechaussee, a branch of the Dutch military, is meant to “contribute to creating a more stable environment” at the fairly large crash site, where nearby fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukraine’s military has caused a “changing security situation,” the Prime Minister said.

He conceded that it is not certain their mission will succeed.

The Boeing 777 was apparently shot down by a surface-to-air missile on July 17 after leaving Amsterdam at about 12:15 p.m. All 298 people on the plane were killed, of which 194 were Dutch, and 80 were under 20-years-old.

The Netherlands has been chosen to lead the investigation, though more investigators from other countries will also depart for the crash site.

Prime Minister Rutte’s announcement came one day after a meeting with the Council of Ministers at the Prime Minister’s official residence, Catshuis. Some ministers have reportedly lobbied for the Dutch to send a military presence to the Ukraine, while the Prime Minister is said to want a UN policing unit on the ground at the crash site.