Malaysia MH17 Victims Were Dead before Takeoff; Claims Pro-Russian Rebel Commander


Self-proclaimed separatist Donetsk People’s Republic’s Prime Minister, Alexander Borodai (R), and rebel military chief, Igor Strelkov (L), attend a press conference in Donetsk on July 12, 2014. AFP PHOTO / MAX VETROV (Photo credit should read MAX VETROV/AFP/Getty Images) | MAX VETROV via Getty Images

MOSCOW (AP) — A top pro-Russia rebel commander in eastern Ukraine has given a version of events surrounding the Malaysian jetliner crash — suggesting many of the victims may have died days before the plane took off.

The pro-rebel website Russkaya Vesna on Friday quoted Igor Girkin as saying he was told by people at the crash site that “a significant number of the bodies weren’t fresh,” adding that he was told they were drained of blood and reeked of decomposition.

Girkin, also known as Strelkov and allegedly a former Russian military intelligence agent, said he couldn’t confirm the information. But it’s sure to add to the intense emotions surrounding the crash, with the rebels accused of shooting down the plane.

Girkin said “Ukrainian authorities are capable of any baseness.”

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