Ukraine rebels hand black boxes from downed plane to Malaysia experts

Reuters
Armed pro-Russian separatists stand guard in front of the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the village of Grabove, in the region of Donetsk on July 20, 2014
Armed pro-Russian separatists stand guard in front of the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the village of Grabove, in the region of Donetsk on July 20, 2014 (AFP Photo/Bulent Kilic)

DONETSK Ukraine (Reuters) - A senior separatist leader, Aleksander Borodai, handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts in the city of Donetsk in the early hours of Tuesday.

"Here they are, the black boxes," Borodai told a room packed with journalists at the headquarters of his self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic as an armed rebel placed the boxes on a desk.

Both sides then signed a document, which Borodai said was a protocol to finalise the procedure after lengthy talks with the Malaysians.

"I can see that the black boxes are intact, although a bit damaged. In good condition," Colonel Mohamed Sakri of Malaysian National Security Council said in extending his thanks to "His Excellency Mr.Borodai" for passing on the recorders.

Borodai also said a train carrying the remains of the victims of the Malaysia Airlines plane catastrophe has reached Donetsk. It is on its way to Kharkiv, some 300 km (186 miles) north-west.

The Malaysian experts and a Dutch delegation also on site in Donetsk will travel along with it, he said.

(Reporting by Peter Graff, writing by Gabriela Baczynska, editing by Grant McCool)