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Dutch to begin assembling MH17 wreckage

The wreckage was transferred under a deal with Kiev.

FILE: Flowers, teddy bears and a note reading "Remember. Mourn" lie at the site of the crash of flight MH17 on 19 July 2014. Picture: AFP.

AMSTERDAM - Members of the national Safety Board will piece together the remains of the plane to determine exactly what brought down flight MH17.

A parallel criminal investigation is being conducted by Dutch prosecutors in 11 countries to identify possible culprits. Two-thirds of the passengers on board the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur were Dutch.

Washington and its allies said pro-Russian rebels fighting in the area hit the plane with a surface-to-air missile. Russia, caught up in its worst confrontation with the West since the Cold war, said the missile came from a Ukrainian government jet.

Dozens of relatives of the victims looked on in the southern town of Gilze-Rijen as eight flatbed trucks pulled into the military base under police escort.

Ukrainian emergency services operating under Dutch supervision picked up wreckage considered most valuable for the inquiry during a six-day operation in November. Bits of fuselage could help determine what direction the missile came from.

Grieving families have protested against delays in the investigation after debris lay strewn across the crash site for months. One group last week called for a UN envoy to take over the investigation, saying Dutch authorities had failed to build a case.

The wreckage was transferred under a deal with Kiev and, through mediation by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), pro-Russian separatists.

The Dutch Safety Board said the wreckage would be photographed, scanned and categorised and experts would then attempt to reconstruct the airliner.