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Ukraine Reiterates Demands From Iran Over Downed Airliner

A memorial square to victims of the UIA plane crash of PS752, which was shot down near Tehran, was opened at Boryspil Airport. Kyiv, 17Feb2020
A memorial square to victims of the UIA plane crash of PS752, which was shot down near Tehran, was opened at Boryspil Airport. Kyiv, 17Feb2020

Kyiv has once again demanded an "official apology" from Tehran for the downing of the Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) passenger plane, killing all 176 onboard.

In an exclusive interview with Radio Farda's Anna Rajskaya (Ra-yskaya), the head of international law at the Ukraine's' Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oksana Zolotaryova, has reiterated that the Islamic Republic should officially apologize for the tragedy, and identify person(s) responsible for firing missiles at UIA's Boeing and downing it on January 8, over Tehran.

The three-year-old Boeing 737-800, flight 752 operated by the UIA, took off from Tehran international airport on January 8. A few minutes later, amid tension with the U.S., the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) fired two anti-air missiles, bringing down the plane not too far from the airport.

Victims of the crash included 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, eleven Ukrainians, ten Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans, and three Britons. Canada, Ukraine, Germany, Britain, and Afghanistan have formed a group to pursue a thorough investigation of the incident.

Weeks later, haggling over the primary investigation, the fate of the plane's black boxes kept in Iran, and the amount of compensation for the relatives of the victims are still outstanding.

Ukraine's representative, Oksana Zolotaryova, admits that investigating such cases is a "lengthy procedure," adding that after almost four years of negotiation about the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17's (MH17) has not yet been completed.

MH17 was a scheduled passenger flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur that was shot down on July 17, 2014, while flying over eastern Ukraine. All 283 passengers and 15 crew were killed.

However, Zolotaryova tells Radio Farda that Tehran still has time to cooperate with other countries to achieve justice.

Based on international law, Ms. Zolotaryova argues, Tehran is responsible for investigating the UIA's case, and Ukraine, as the owner of the plane cooperates with Iran.

The investigations are not limited to the fate of the black boxes, says Zolotaryova, noting that every other detail related to the tragedy should also thoroughly be investigated.

"At the end of the investigations, Iran is obliged to present a full report to the International Civil Aviation Organization, ICAO, offer its proposals concerning the safety of flights, and recommend measures for preventing of such incidents in the future," Zolotaryova asserts.

Meanwhile, diplomats from the countries involved in the tragedy are discussing the amount of compensation for the bereaved families.

"The discussion about compensation is also a lengthy procedure," Zolotaryova says, reminding, "The problem of paying compensation to the relatives of the victims of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17's (MH17) took two years."

In the meantime, Zolotaryova called on the Islamic Republic authorities to officially admit responsibility for downing the UIA's passenger plane. However, the Ukrainian diplomat noted that Kyiv had not set a deadline for Tehran to do so.

"But how long Kyiv is going to wait for Tehran's response?"

"Kyiv is giving Tehran a little bit more time. At the next stage, Ukraine may file a complaint against the Islamic Republic at the international tribunals," Zolotaryova says, affirming, "Surely, the Islamic Republic authorities are aware that if they stop cooperating with Ukraine and our counterparts in the case, we would refer the case to the International Court of Justice in the Hague."

It is not the first time that Ukraine has demanded an "official apology" and accepting "responsibility" for the disaster.

Hours after Iran admitted its missiles shot down the Ukrainian passenger jet, Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, called for – among other things – a formal apology.

Furthermore, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy issued a statement January 11, demanding "assurances" from Iran of a "full and open investigation, bringing the perpetrators to justice," in the wake of the tragedy over Tehran.