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SYDNEY - Australia's prime minister voiced deep concern on Monday that Russian-backed rebels remained in control of the Malaysia Airlines crash scene in Ukraine, saying the site looked more like a "garden clean-up" than a forensic investigation. At least 27 Australian passengers were among the 298 people aboard Flight MH17, shot down over eastern Ukraine in an attack the West has blamed on separatist rebels armed by Russia.
"Given the almost certain culpability of the Russian-backed rebels in the downing of the aircraft, having those people in control of the site is a little like leaving criminals in control of a crime scene," Prime Minister Tony Abbott said. "There's still a hell of a long way to go before anyone could be satisfied with the way that site is being treated. It's more like a garden clean-up than a forensic investigation. This is completely unacceptable." Television images of the rebel-controlled crash scene, where the remains of victims had lain decomposing in fields among their personal belongings, have turned initial shock and sorrow after Thursday's disaster into anger. The bodies had been removed at gunpoint from much of the crash site by Sunday, with many placed in refrigerated train wagons.
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