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Ukrainian Reporter Accuses Iran Officials of Concealing Truth About Downed Airliner

Farewell ceremony for the Ukrainian victims of PS572 plane crash, Boryspil, 19Jan2020

Two weeks after Iran's Revolutionary Guard acknowledged they had downed a Ukrainian airliner killing all 176 on board, Ukraine keeps insisting on its demand for transparent investigation into what happened to Flight 752.

Iran, on the other hand, says it is Tehran's right to go through the aircraft's black box flight recorders and investigate the details of what happened.

In the meantime, a prominent Ukrainian reporter, Yuriy Butusov, has expressed serious concern about the matter while giving out details of some observations made by the Ukrainian investigation team after their visit to Tehran.

Iranian social media users have speculated that the reason Iran has refused to hand over the black boxes to international investigators is that it perhaps includes conversation between the pilots and the ground. They further speculate that the captain might have been about to return to the airport before the second IRGC missile hit the plane.

Ukraine's National Security Council says a team from Ukraine are working with Canadian and French colleagues on the case. Meanwhile Alexey Danilov, the secretary of the Council says he has informed Iranian authorities that Ukraine is capable of reading the contents of the downed aircraft's flight recorders.

Contrary to what they had said in the initial stages, Iranian officials refuse to hand over the black box to international investigators and keep giving out conflicting statements about the black box(es).

Canada and Ukraine have said repeatedly that Iran lacks the technology to read the recorded data. However, the chairman of Iranian Parliament's National Security Council has said it is Iran's right to go through the black box on its own.

Although Ukraine acknowledges Iran's right to investigate the case, yet it appears that Ukrainian officials have been disappointed by the contradictory remarks of their Iranian counterparts.

Butusov who has been sceptical about the reasons of the downing of the aircraft is concerned about the fact that Iran's investigation is going ahead in a news blackout. It is true that Iran has accepted responsibility for “mistakenly” shooting down the plane, but why Tehran is reluctant to share the flight recorders with Ukraine and Canada that lost so many of its citizens.

He told Radio Farda that he believes Ukrainian officials should do more to make Iran accountable. He believes they do not want to exert pressure on Iran because they cannot predict Iran's reaction.

Butusov said: "In my opinion it is essential to exert pressure on the Iranian government as it has committed a war crime and has practically used the civilian aircraft as human shield against U.S. strikes." He added: "If Iran wants to be a responsible member of civilized human community, it should name and put on trial those who committed the crime and those who ordered it."

Asked if Iran has allowed Ukrainian investigators access to those arrested in relation to the incident, Butusov said: "Absolutely not. We have serious questions about the legal procedure in Iran and I am certain that the perpetrators will not be named."

He added: "If Iran wanted to be transparent, it should not have concealed the truth in the first days after the crime was committed. Iranian officials knew what had happened but tried to keep Ukrainian officials in the dark."

He said that traces of the missile attack on the aircraft were possibly hidden before the investigators arrived on the scene. But the Ukrainian team miraculously found traces in the inside of some aircraft body parts.

Butusov said: "Certainly Iran has committed a big crime and this should have been condemned by Ukrainian officials. Their impartial and even compromising approach is unacceptable."

He added: "Nothing can compensate the lives that have been lost. The most important thing for us is to find out about the reasons of what happened and to put the perpetrators on trial. We are waiting for the legal process to end in Iran in a way that would be acceptable in international law."

The downing of the Ukrainian aircraft and the Iranian officials' attempts to conceal the truth has badly harmed Iran's integrity. So far tourism authorities have said that many tours and flights to Iran have been cancelled causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses to travel agencies.

Meanwhile, the ensuing sense of insecurity has prompted international soccer clubs and the Asian Football Federation to deprive Iran of the right to host international games. Iran tried to defy the ruling, but Iranian officials finally surrendered, fearing tens of thousands of dollars of penalty for causing losses to advertisers and sponsors of the Asian soccer championship.

Anna Raskaya is a pen name for the author who wishes to protest her identity