“Never again” says Ukraine, as families mourn Iran plane crash victims

A woman attends a commemorative ceremony marking the first anniversary of flight PS752 downing in Kyiv
A victim's relative mourns during a commemorative ceremony, which marks the first anniversary of the Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 downing in Iranian airspace, in Kyiv, Ukraine January 8, 2021. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

January 8, 2021

By Ilya Zhegulev

KYIV (Reuters) – Ukraine urged Iran on Friday to deliver justice and pay full compensation to the families of those who died when a Ukrainian airliner was shot down by Iranian Revolutionary Guards exactly one year ago.

Iran said 10 officers would soon go on trial for the downing of the Ukraine International Airlines plane shot down in Iranian airspace on Jan. 8, 2020, having last week allocated $150,000 for the families of each of the 176 victims, many of them citizens or residents of Canada.

Ukraine had previously described Iran’s handling of the aftermath as “unacceptable” and demanded that the amount of compensation be negotiated, and a Canadian adviser to relatives said on Thursday it was premature to discuss such figures.

On Friday, Ukraine, Canada, Sweden, Britain and Afghanistan – representing the home countries of most of the passengers who did not live in Iran – issued a joint statement calling 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,” it said.

In Tehran, military prosecutor Gholam Abbas Torki told state television that 10 officers had been subject to disciplinary action including dismissals or demotions, and that they would soon go on trial. He did not give a timeframe.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have said they shot down the aircraft in error shortly after takeoff, mistaking it for a missile at a time when tensions with Washington were high because of the U.S. assassination five days earlier of Guards General Qassem Soleimani.

In a statement, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said: “No one doubts that the lives of 176 civilians aboard a peaceful plane were criminally taken by two missiles…

“It was impossible not to know then that it was a passenger plane in the air.”

(Additional reporting by Dubai newsroom; Writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by William Maclean and Kevin Liffey)