Canada is offering short-term financial support to families of Flight 752 victims who were Canadian citizens or permanent residents, but said it ultimately expects formal compensation from Iran, which shot down the civilian airliner last week.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada will offer $25,000 for each victim to families of Canadian citizens and permanent residents who lost their lives in the tragedy.
This is intended to assist with financial costs, including funeral arrangements and travel, and reflects the unique situation families find themselves in as they deal with a country such as Iran that is under international sanctions, the Prime Minister said.
"I want to be clear: We expect Iran to compensate these families,” Mr. Trudeau told reporters at an Ottawa briefing.
“I have met them and they can’t wait weeks. They need support now.”
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Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was shot down on Jan. 8, hours after Iran had fired several volleys of ballistic missiles at U.S. military targets in Iraq, in response to the U.S. assassination of a senior Iranian commander.
All 176 people on board died, including 57 Canadians and 29 foreigners who were permanent residents of Canada.
Friday was the first time that Mr. Trudeau first mentioned the 29 permanent residents who also died in the Jan. 8 disaster.
After days of denying that it was responsible, Iran last Saturday admitted it had brought down the plane, but said the tragedy was owing to human error.
Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization has recorded the number of dead from Canada differently in a preliminary Jan. 9 report, listing them as 146 Iranian citizens, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Afghans, five Canadians and four Swedes. The authority acknowledged some of the dead had multiple citizenship, but based its count on the passports used by passengers and crew at airport-departure border controls.
Mr. Trudeau also told reporters that he expects the remains of Canadians killed in the Flight 752 disaster will begin to be returned to Canada “in the coming days.”
Asked how Canada decided on the amount of $25,000, he said this stemmed from meetings with victims’ families in recent days about the financial pressure burdening them right now. The money is for “the needs they are facing: everything from bills that are coming in, to credit cards that are maxed out, to real questions about how to get back to Iran to support their families … at a time when air travel is increasingly limited in the region – and expensive.”
He said this does not make up for the compensation that Iran must give to these families “in due course.”
Mr. Trudeau suggested Canada does not expect Iran to reimburse Ottawa for these $25,000 payouts. “I can assure you that any money from Iran to the [families of the] victims would go straight to them. It wouldn’t be to reimburse the Canadian government.”
Canada and other countries are urging Iran to send the black-box flight recorders to France, Mr. Trudeau said.
The Prime Minister said Flight 752’s recorders are significantly damaged and Iran doesn’t have the technical capacity to analyze them quickly. He said it’s important that the damaged recorders be examined as quickly as possible and France is one of the few places in the world where this can be done.
On Thursday, countries other than Iran that lost citizens in the Flight 752 crash gathered in London and issued a statement urging Tehran to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the disaster and offer to deliver “closure, accountability, transparency and justice for the families and loved ones of all the victims." The countries included Canada, Britain, Afghanistan, Sweden and Ukraine.
Mr. Trudeau said that so far the “people we’re engaging with in Iran have been aligned” with the wishes of Canada and other countries for a full investigation.
Asked if his government will impose sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Mr. Trudeau said Ottawa’s focus now is on supporting the families of Canadian citizens and permanent residents. “There will be other questions to reflect on in coming months.”
Asked if he felt the Americans bear any responsibility for the Flight 752 tragedy because the U.S. killed a senior Iranian military commander days earlier and heightened tensions in the region, Mr. Trudeau said Iran was fully to blame.
With a report from Reuters