June 4, 2021 By Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Canada, Sweden, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom have delivered a notice of claim against Iran over its downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, the four countries said Thursday.
Foreign ministers from those countries, who lost citizens and residents when the jetliner was shot down shortly after taking off from Tehran in January 2020, said in a statement that Iran’s “actions and omissions amount to breaches of international law.”
The ministers said their countries, nationals and residents on board flight PS752 were seriously and irreversibly harmed by the tragedy.
“Iran must fulfil its legal responsibility to make full reparations to the group of states,” the ministers said in a statement.
A followup statement said Afghanistan, which is the fifth member of the International Co-ordination and Response Group for families of victims of Flight 752, will remain a “key partner” but not take part in the coming negotiations as it deals with a series of attacks in Kabul.
The other four ministers called on Iran to set a date to begin talks on the issue.
Their demands include an acknowledgment of wrongdoing, a full accounting of events that led to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard firing two missiles at the plane, a public apology, reassurances it will not happen again, transparent prosecutions and compensation for damages suffered by the victims and their families.
Canada has rejected a final report by Iran’s civil aviation authority that blames “human error” for the Revolutionary Guard firing at the plane.
The Revolutionary Guard shot the missiles at Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 shortly after it took off from Tehran on Jan. 8 last year, when “the aircraft was misidentified as a hostile target by an air defence unit,” says the Iranian agency’s final report into the crash.
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra and Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau largely dismissed the 145-page document, which was posted to the website of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization.
“The report has really avoided addressing the substance and the real reasons behind shooting down the plane,” Alghabra said in an interview in March.
Alghabra said the report fails to explain why Iran kept most of its airspace open to commercial traffic despite having just launched a missile strike against a pair of U.S. military facilities across the border in Iraq.
All 176 people on board the jetliner were killed, including 55 Canadian citizens, 30 permanent residents and dozens of others bound for Canada. The Tehran-Kyiv route has been an inexpensive first leg of a trip from Iran to Canada.
The federal government continues to call for a “comprehensive and transparent” investigation conducted according to international standards. A Canadian forensic team will produce its own report based partly on intelligence “in the coming days,” Alghabra said.
Human Rights Watch said in a new report last week that Iran has harassed families of passengers killed aboard flight 752.
The organizations said that from last fall until January, it spoke with 31 family members of victims and “people with direct knowledge” of how Iranian authorities treated relatives.
It reported that 16 people said security officials threatened them not to speak with foreign media or followed relatives and friends who attended memorials.
“Family members said that in several instances, the authorities interfered with burial and memorial services, pressuring families to accept the government’s ‘martyrdom’ status for their loved ones, and published photos and videos without the permission of the families at services,” it read.
One person taken into custody was also tortured, the report said, detailing how in at least three cases family members were told they would face consequences if they didn’t remove critical social media posts against the government.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellows.