KUALA LUMPUR - Sixty-eight Malaysian police personnel will leave Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday for rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine where the Malaysia Airlines MH17 plane crashed earlier this month.
The decision to send the team as part of an international deployment was announced on Sunday in a statement by Malaysian government. The statement said Malaysia had secured an agreement with Ukrainian separatists, who control the area around the crash site, to allow a group of international police personnel to provide protection to international crash investigators.
"Pursuant to the earlier agreement between Prime Minister Najib Razak and Alexander Borodai, leader of the separatist forces, Mr Borodai today agreed to allow a deployment of international police personnel to enter the crash site," the statement said.
It further added that Mr Najib has spoken to his counterparts in the Netherlands and Australia and the three countries have agreed to work closely together in deploying the relevant personnel.
A team of 30 Dutch experts has already left for the crash site on Sunday, while Australia's foreign minister Julie Bishop also announced that a number of armed "non-threatening force" will be deployed at the site to protect crash investigators, The Star news said.
Mr Najib had earlier earned international kudos for brokering an agreement with Mr Borodai last week which would see the transfer of black boxes of the crashed plane to Malaysia, handover of the human remains to international officials and full access to international investigators to the site.
Likewise, rebel leaders on Sunday said that a train carriage filled with personal belongings of the victims of Malaysia MH17 had been despatched for Dutch territory.
But, international crash investigators have been unable to properly deploy across the vast crash site in eastern Ukraine and collect evidence due to ongoing security concerns, including continued military activity.
"Malaysia is concerned that these security concerns are preventing full and unfettered access to the site, and therefore a proper, independent investigation from being carried out. Moreover, Malaysia is particularly concerned that some human remains may still be at the crash site," the statement said.
Malaysian officials are discussing the details of the police deployment with the Netherlands and Australia, the statement added.
Malaysia Airlines MH17 with 298 people on board crashed on July 17 near the Ukraine Russia border. Rebels have rejected acusations that they shot down the pplane with a missile from Russia.