Cop accused of selling MH17 evidence not fired, not prosecuted

The Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash site in Ukraine. Source: Twitter/ @mashable. (The Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash site in Ukraine. Source: Twitter/ @mashable)

A police officer caught selling MH17 related items on classifieds site Marktplaats, will not be prosecuted, the police announced on Friday. He will also not be dismissed, but he was demoted and put on probation.

The police officer was arrested on November 29th last year on suspicion of embezzling goods, after Marktplaats informed the police that he advertised a number of MH17 items for sale on the site. These items included clothes he wore in the investigation into the airplane disaster, a packet of Malaysia Airlines and a small piece of material. The officer was released again the next day.

The investigation into these items revealed that the packet of tissues and piece of material did indeed come from the Malaysia Airlines plane, but that the officer did not come by it illegally. The items were picked up outside the investigation area in Ukraine and could be taken away by anyone. They are not relevant to the investigation at all. The clothes he tried to sell were clothes the man wore himself during the forensic investigation on the spot. None of the items were therefore illegally obtained, so no crime was committed.

The police's Department of Safety, Integrity and Complaints also conducted an internal disciplinary investigation against the officer and decided to demote him and put him on probation. According to the department, police officers are set high demands regarding integrity and reliability. The department found that, despite the fact that no crime was committed, offering MH17 items for sale so soon after the report on the disaster was released was "unethical, inappropriate, offensive and shocking to the victims' survivors and society as a whole."

According to the police, the fact that the officer has a good track record spanning many years, that he turned himself in and that he sees the error of his actions, played a part in the integrity department's decision on how to punish him.