Ukraine demands justice, compensation

We expect Iran to bring the guilty to the courts, says President; Trudeau calls for closure, accountability

Updated - January 11, 2020 10:32 pm IST

Published - January 11, 2020 09:57 pm IST - Kiev

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

Ukraine on Saturday demanded that Iran punish those guilty for the downing of a Ukrainian airliner and compensate victims while praising Tehran for cooperating with an “objective” investigation.

Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky was due to discuss the incident with his Iranian counterpart President Hassan Rouhani, his press office said. “We expect Iran... to bring the guilty to the courts,” the Ukrainian leader wrote on Facebook, calling also for the “payment of compensation” and the return of remains.

Tehran admitted on Saturday that it accidentally downed the Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) plane, killing all 176 people on board on Wednesday, shortly after launching missiles at bases hosting US forces in Iraq.

Tehran has invited the United States, Ukraine, Canada and others to join the crash investigation. Kiev said that Iran had cooperated with its experts and it expects an objective probe.

Tehran has handed Ukrainian experts enough data including “all the photos, videos and other materials” to show the investigation “will be carried out objectively and promptly,” Mr. Zelensky’s office said. “The political part of the work is finished,” it added. It published photos of experts examining the scene and close-ups of holes in the fuselage and shrapnel damage.

Ukraine said on Friday its experts dispatched to Iran had been granted access to the flight’s black boxes, debris from the plane, the crash site and to recordings of conversations between the pilot and the airport control tower.

Independent inquiry

Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s national security and defence council which is coordinating the probe, said Kiev did not yet have evidence on where the missile was produced, only that it was “launched from Iranian soil.” Mr. Zelensky said earlier that Ukraine hoped the inquiry would be pursued “without deliberate delay and without obstruction.” He urged “total access” for the 45 Ukrainian experts, and in a tweet also sought an “official apology”.

UIA vice president Igor Sosnovsky told a news conference in Kiev on Saturday that Tehran should have closed the airport due to the escalation of regional tensions following the U.S. assassination of a top Iranian general.

The majority of passengers on UIA Flight PS752 from Tehran to Kiev were Iranian-Canadian dual nationals but also included Ukrainians, Afghans, Britons and Swedes. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said closure and accountability were needed. He also demanded “transparency, and justice for the families and loved ones of the victims”. “This is a national tragedy, and all Canadians are mourning together.”

It is Iran’s worst civil aviation disaster since 1988 when the U.S. military said it shot down an Iran Air plane over the Gulf by mistake, killing all 290 people on board.

Video footage of the incident, which The New York Times said it had verified, emerged and appeared to show the moment the airliner was hit.

A fast-moving object is seen rising at an angle into the sky before a bright flash appears, which dims and then continues moving forward. Several seconds later, an explosion is heard and the sky lights up.

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