Families of those killed on Flight 752 demand answers
EDMONTON Families of the victims of Ukrainian Flight 752, which was shot down by an Iranian missile in January, are renewing calls for answers and accountability from the Middle Eastern country.
During an online news conference on Tuesday, Toronto’s Hamed Esmaeilion, whose daughter and wife were among the 176 people killed on Jan. 8 when a surfaceto-air missile struck a passenger plane shortly after takeoff in Tehran, said more international pressure — including from the Canadian government — is needed to hold Iran accountable.
Six months later, he said, there are still unanswered questions, including who decided to keep the airspace open for civilian traffic amid military tension between Iran and the U.S., how a civilian plane was mistaken for a cruise missile, how the cruise missile reached Tehran undetected and whether there have been attempts to tamper with the black boxes.
Esmaeilion said if Iran doesn’t cooperate in answering these questions, the matter should be brought to the International Court of Justice.
“We need to know more,” he said. “We are frustrated. Families (have been) destroyed from all the misinformation and misdirection from Iranian officials. We need more international pressure and more pressure from the Canadian government to force Iran to comply with obligations.”
Fifty-five Canadians including 13 Edmontonians as well as 30 permanent residents were on board.
Iranian officials initially denied claims by Canada and other Western countries that the plane was shot down but days later said it was an accident caused by human error after the aircraft flew toward a military position.
The families are questioning this account as another flight took off about an hour before Flight 752.
Tensions were high in the region following the American-led killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, on Jan. 3. Soleimani, a tactician, is credited with helping the Iraqis defeat the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.
Esmaeilion said the Iranian officials have done a lot of harm and accused authorities of looting the bodies.
“No one knows where my wife’s wedding ring and my daughter’s pink doll is,” he said. “The bodies of these innocent people were looted and improperly and indecently interfered with.”
At the moment, Iran is leading its own investigation into the crash as well as Ukraine with Canada offering technical assistance.
Hamed Esmaeilion says he has not got his wife Parisa Eghbalian’s wedding ring nor his daughter Reera Esmaeilion’s doll back after they were killed when Ukrainian Flight 752 was shot down by Iran on Jan. 8. He is meeting Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-philippe Champagne next week to discuss the crash investigation.