PETALING JAYA - Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak appealed to the "conscience" of the Ukrainian separatists in his effort to retrieve the bodies and black boxes of the ill-fated Flight MH17.
Najib revealed this in an exclusive interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday when she asked him why did the separatists agree to return the remains of the victims and black boxes when he negotiated with them.
Najib said he had told the separatists that the victims were not involved in the geo-political conflict in the region.
"I appealed to them. I said, 'Come on. This is something you need to do (return the bodies and black boxes) because the families affected have nothing to do with what you are fighting for'."
He also told the separatists, "They are innocent people. Look, hand over the bodies to us. Hand over the black boxes to us."
Najib said in the interview that he had to act alone as the matter was "very sensitive."
"I had to press the buttons, work back channels and conduct the operation myself," he said, adding that he was literally guiding the Malaysian team from one checkpoint to another on the phone until the mission was completed.
On July 17, Flight MH17, carrying 298 passengers and crew from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was believed to have been shot down in eastern Ukraine.