28 July 2014
Last updated at 10:34
There are fears that some evidence at the crash site may have been compromised as it was not protected
The downing of Malaysia Airlines jet MH17 in eastern Ukraine may constitute a “war crime”, the UN human rights chief Navi Pillay says.
Ukraine and Western governments believe pro-Russian rebels shot down MH17, using a missile system supplied by Russia. All 298 people on board – most of them Dutch – died on 17 July.
Moscow and the rebels have blamed Ukrainian forces for the plane crash.
Dutch and Australian police are now heading for the crash site.
Heavy fighting in the area prevented the police going there earlier. They want to help secure the huge crash site – in rebel-held territory – so that plane wreckage and human remains can be examined by international crash experts.
Most of the bodies have been removed, many of them repatriated to the Netherlands.
“This violation of international law, given the prevailing circumstances, may amount to a war crime,” Ms Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in Geneva.
At least 1,129 people have been killed and 3,442 wounded in the Ukraine conflict since mid-April, the UN said.
The conflict has displaced more than 200,000 people, many of whom have fled east to neighbouring Russia.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday he hoped that monitors from the OSCE international security body would be able to deploy on the Ukraine-Russia border in the next few days.
The Ukrainian army is trying to take control of two main roads, which the government in Kiev believes to be vital supply lines from Russia for rebel forces in Donetsk.
In the past 24 hours there has been heavy artillery fire at the city of Horlivka, where several civilians were killed.
In the city of Donetsk at least three people died in shelling too, the municipal authorities say. And there are reports of civilian casualties as a result of the shelling of Luhansk, which is also held by the rebels.
“Every effort will be made to ensure that anyone committing serious violations of international law including war crimes will be brought to justice, no matter who they are,” Ms Pillay said.
Last week, the US-based Human Rights Watch said both sides in the conflict were using unguided Grad rockets against civilian areas, in violation of human rights norms, and urged them to stop doing so. It documented several attacks in which, it said, the rockets were apparently fired by government forces.
The US has produced what it calls satellite evidence that rockets have been fired at Ukrainian forces from Russian soil.
Russia denies that any of its forces are helping the rebels.
The US state department says these images show where multiple rocket launchers have been used to fire from Russia into Ukraine