Iran’s Cabinet on Wednesday allocated US$150,000 for the families of each of the 176 victims of a Ukrainian plane crash in Iranian airspace in January, the official IRNA news agency reported.
Describing Iran’s handling of the situation as “unacceptable,” Ukraine said the amount of compensation should be negotiated and called for tho\ responsible to be brought to justice.
According to the IRNA report, an Iranian government statement said: “The cabinet approved the provision of $150,000 or the equivalent in euros as soon as possible to the families and survivors of each of the victims of the Ukrainian plane crash.”
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have said they accidentally shot down the Ukraine International Airlines plane shortly after takeoff, mistaking it for a missile when tensions with the United States were high.
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said the compensation should be set through talks, taking into account international practice, after establishing the causes of the tragedy and bringing those responsible to justice.
“The Ukrainian side expects from Iran a draft technical report on the circumstances of the aircraft shooting down,” ministry spokesman Oleh Nikolenko said, adding that Iran had yet to implement earlier agreements, without giving details.
“This situation is especially unacceptable, since we are talking about the fate of innocent people,” Mr. Nikolenko said.
The announcement seemed to take Canada by surprise.
Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said Iran has not made any formal offers for compensation to him or his counterparts from the four other countries that are in talks about reparations.
He said talks to date have been about the structure of future negotiations. No other negotiations have taken place, he said.
In a statement, the Minister said compensation is only one part of obtaining reparations from Iran for the families, noting another part is getting a full accounting of events that led to the downing of flight PS752.
“Negotiations on reparations are the best avenue available to Canada ... to hold Iran accountable for its actions in downing PS752 and ensuring that it makes full reparations to the families and the affected states,” Mr. Champagne said.
“We will continue to fight for justice and accountability every step of the way.”
Canada has played a role as the home of many of the victims on the downed plane.
Iran’s Transport Minister Mohammad Eslami told state television that the final report on the crash had been sent to the countries participating in the investigation.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said an indictment will be issued in less than a month against “those whose negligence caused the accident,” the semi-official news agency Fars reported. Iranian officials have said the case was being handled by a military court.
In a preliminary report in July, Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization blamed a misaligned radar system and lack of communication between the air-defence operator and his commanders for the downing of the plane.
Under United Nations rules, Iran retains overall control of the air investigation while the United States and Ukraine are accredited as the countries where the jet was respectively built and operated.
A spokesman for the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) confirmed by e-mail that it has received the draft report from Iran.
Kathy Fox, chair of the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, said her agency will not have access to the report until it is finalized.
Habib Haghjoo, an Iranian-born Canadian who lost his daughter and granddaughter in the crash, said he did not trust the news from Tehran and stressed that his priority is the report.
“They want to wrap it up,” he said of Iran. “We want the truth.”
With files from Associated Press
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