News National Gag on MH17 victim ID

Gag on MH17 victim ID

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Dutch forensic experts have been told not to publicly reveal whether any Australians are among the identified bodies recovered from the MH17 crash.

The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 exploded over insurgent-held eastern Ukraine on July 17, killing all 298 on board – including 38 Australian citizens and residents.

Dutch forensic experts have so far identified 127 victims.

Most of the identified victims have been Dutch but other nationalities have been publicly revealed, including from Malaysia, UK, New Zealand, Canada, Belgium and Germany.

However, a Dutch justice department spokesman told AAP that Australian diplomatic authorities had advised the department not to say whether any of the bodies were Australians.

“We do not disclose the specific countries of foreign nationals who have been identified … at the request of the embassies in The Hague concerned,” the spokesman said.

“It is up to individual embassies/countries to disclose information on their own citizens.”

The Australian government’s position is that no confirmation of Australian victims will be released unless the affected families wished to disclose the information.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in the Netherlands on Monday that it was up to the families.

“It is for officialdom to inform the families and then respecting the rights of families to allow families to decide what should happen next,” he said.

Australian investigation team leader Dr Simon Walsh hinted on Monday that Australians might have already been identified, but their nationalities remained a secret.

“Up to date figures will be released … (but) please don’t make the assumption that that means no Australians have been identified,” Dr Walsh.

“The only people who will give the authority for that information release will be the families themselves.”