mh17 wreckage
Dutch investigators and a Ukrainian Emergencies Ministry member at the scene of the wreckage of the downed Malaysia Airlines flight near the village of Grabovo in Donetsk region, eastern UkraineReuters

A Dutch pathologist involved in identifying the victims of the downed Malaysia Airlines MH17 flight has been suspended after showing pictures of human remains to medical students and the public during a lecture.

Justice Minister Ard van der Steur said the actions of Professor George Maat from Leiden University were "completely inappropriate and in bad taste" when he disclosed the confidential images to a packed auditorium in Maastricht.

Van der Steur told Parliament on 23 April: "The collaboration with George Maat has been terminated."

In his defence, Maat said he thought the lecture was only open to medical and forensic science students. However a Facebook page was reportedly set up advertising the event as being open to the public.

"It appears that other people were there, I hadn't realised," he said. "I'm very sorry to have hurt or distressed victims' loved ones."

Evert van Zijtveld, whose son, daughter and parents-in-law died in the crash, said he was appalled by the lecture.

"This is terribly shocking. It just causes extra grief for relatives," he told AP.

"Information from the identification process cannot be used as study material."

Arie de Bruijn, head of the Dutch police forensics unit, also described comments made by Maat as "speculative, untrue and partly outside his area of expertise".

Forensic investigators have identified 296 passengers who were killed when the airliner was reportedly shot down by pro-Russian separatists using a BUK surface air missile over the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine. The team expect to recover the remains of the last two people this week.

Dutch police have since launched a criminal investigation to prosecute those culpable for the crash. Russia denies all responsibility.