‘Countries will hold Iran to account’ over downed airliner

Ukraine demands full reparations for the families of the victims, countries affected by downing of plane a year ago.

The 176 victims of the January 8, 2020 incident included 57 Canadian citizens as well as 11 Ukrainians, 17 people from Sweden, four Afghans and four British citizens [AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky]

Ukraine has called on Iran to deliver justice and pay full compensation to the families of those who were killed when a Ukrainian airliner was shot down by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) last January.

On Friday, the first anniversary of the crash, Ukraine, and countries whose citizens were killed in the incident, jointly called in a statement for “a complete and thorough explanation … including concrete measures to ensure that it will never happen again”.

“Our countries will hold Iran to account to deliver justice and make sure Iran makes full reparations to the families of the victims and affected countries,” said the statement, made jointly with Afghanistan, Canada, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Last week, Iran said it would pay $150,000 to families of each of the 176 victims of the Ukraine International Airlines plane that was shot down in Iranian airspace.

Among the victims of the incident were 57 Canadians as well as 11 Ukrainians, 17 people from Sweden, four Afghans and four British citizens.

The IRGC has said it accidentally shot down the aircraft, which was en route to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, mistaking it for a missile at a time when tensions with the United States were high.

The incident took place on the same night Iran launched a ballistic missile attack targeting US soldiers in Iraq in response to a drone strike ordered by US President Donald Trump that killed General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on January 3.

But on Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said it was “impossible not to know then that it was a passenger plane in the air”.

“No one doubts that the lives of 176 civilians aboard a peaceful plane were criminally taken by two missiles,” Zelenskiy said.

Describing Iran’s handling of the situation as “unacceptable”, Ukraine had earlier said the amount of compensation should be negotiated.

A Canadian adviser said on Thursday that it was premature to discuss how much compensation to pay to relatives.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday the country will not accept “anything less than a comprehensive and honest explanation” from Iran. He also called for “transparency, accountability, and justice” for the families of the victims.

‘Justice will be served’

Meanwhile, in Iran, tributes were paid to the victims.

Social media was awash with posts about the downed flight on Thursday, while a number of the victims’ families held a vigil at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport, where the flight took off from.

A commemorative event also took place in Shahedshahr, where the airplane came down.

In a televised speech, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called the incident “very bitter, painful and unbelievable”.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said: “The only thing we can do is to provide compensation in accordance with prevailing international norms and to hold those responsible to account. Justice will be served.”

Last month, Iran said the final technical report on the incident was sent to other countries involved in the case for review and comments, and will soon be published.

Additional reporting by Maziar Motamedi in Tehran

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies