From Mohd Faizal Hassan
THE HAGUE, (Aug 27) — The process of identifying the remains of the remaining MH17 Malaysian crash victims has now entered the difficult and challenging phase.
MH17 Victims Identification Board member Datuk Dr Zahari Noh said the cases was getting more complex because the forensic expert could now only depend on DNA, which takes a long time.
“In the DNA phase the process gets more detailed. If there is a matching finger prints or DNA, the case can proceed for identity confirmation.
“It can take a long time or just a while, the expert can no longer solely depend on the matching of the finger prints or teeth like the identification or recognition of the remains before this,” he said.
Dr Zahari, who is also Penang Hospital Forensic Department head, disclosed this in an interview with Bernama and Radio Televisyen Malaysja (RTM) recently.
He is the sole Malaysian representative in the board, which is based in the Military Medical Centre in Hilversum near here.
In determining the identity of the victims, Dr Zahari said it needed to go through the process of recovery of body parts, post-mortem and reconciliation using the finger prints matching, DNA and patological techniques.
He said once the process was completed, any cases that had identified the victim’s identity would be presented to the board,
Among his tasks was to review every case that was presented in the meeting, being held thrice a week, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, for identification and identity confirmation.
The seven board members are from various fields such as prosecutors and from other countries like the Netherlands and United Kingdom.
Wherever there is a Malaysian victim’s remains that has been identified and confirmed, I will inform the Malaysian embassy here which will then inform it to the family,” he said, adding that various documentation processes had to be done to take out the remains from the Monuta mortuary.
According to the Standard Operating Procedure, the remains would need to undergo five important processes after they were identified as belonging to a particular country.
These included obtaining the medical certificate, medical certificate, disaster report, permit to send the remains home and an agreement letter from the Netherlands’ public prosecuting officer for the remains to be buried or cremated.
The remains will then be transported to the Monuta mortuary, S-Gravenhage here about 90 km from
Hilversum to undergo religious rites in accordance to their respective beliefs.
Asked on the complaints of certain quarters that the remains were not being brought out at the same time, he said all the identification process needed time and had to go through various phases.
He said the public needed to know that there were 298 cases and only 20 cases could be presented at every meeting and not all the remains identified were those of Malaysians.
“The procedure here, such as identification and autopsy, differs. The speed in identifying any remains depends on the completion of the reconciliation phase,” he said.
So far 180 out of the 298 victims’ remains had been identified, he said.
Dr Zahari, who has served almost 27 years in the health field, including forensic, said it was his desire and hope to identify and find all the remains of Malaysian victims as soon as possible.
“When faced with difficulties, I always pray that each time the meeting is held, there are remains of Malaysians being taken out, then I feel relieved,” he said.
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai had said the remains of 31 Malaysians had been identified.
Last Friday, the first group of 20 remains of 11 passengers and nine crew were brought home from Amsterdam by a special aircraft and on Sunday the second group comprising three tragedy victims arrived in the country.
Another remains had also arrived on Saturday.
Flight MH17, which was carrying 289 passenger, including 15 crew, was enroute from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed in east Ukraine last July 17.—BERNAMA