The National - News
‘High-level officials’ behind shooting down of airliner in Tehran
A report has claimed that high-level Iranian officials, not an air-defences operator, were to blame for last year’s shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger plane in Tehran.
Wednesday’s report by an association representing 140 of the victims of Flight PS752 challenges Iran’s official findings.
Tehran blamed a misaligned radar and an error by the air defence operator for shooting down the plane shortly after it took off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport. All 176 people on board were killed.
Iran’s government said the operator mistook the jet for a missile at a time when tensions were high with the US.
The families’ report is more than 200 pages long and was prepared by the association’s fact-finding committee with assistance from aviation and legal experts.
It is not an official air crash accident report, which is designed not to focus on liability but to see how safety can be improved in the future.
“It is the belief of the association that high-ranking officials of Iran are responsible for the downing of Flight PS752 and not just a handful of low-ranking ... members, as per the claims of the government of Iran,” the report said.
It emphasised the continuing dispute over Iran’s findings, which have been criticised by Ukraine and Canada because Tehran had responsibility for investigating the circumstances and causes of the crash.
Many of the people who died in the crash were Canadian citizens or permanent residents.
A Canadian investigation into the crash reported in June that it found no evidence Iran’s downing of the jet was premeditated, but condemned what it called the incompetence and recklessness of those responsible.
Canada’s Foreign Affairs Department is analysing the association’s latest report, a government spokeswoman said.
The report said the missile system operator involved had vast experience and expertise with short-range missile systems, including service in Syria, and should have been able to distinguish the airliner from a cruise missile.
The association, composed of mostly Canadian families, said the report used public information and recordings of “high-ranking Iranian officials” among its sources.
Meanwhile, Canada, Sweden, Ukraine and the UK issued a joint statement expressing disappointment that Iran had not accepted requests to meet last Monday to negotiate reparations for shooting the plane down.
The countries called on Iran to meet them before the end of the year and pledged to hold it responsible for the crash.
“Should Iran continue to avoid negotiating with the group, the co-ordination group will have no choice but to seriously consider other actions and measures to resolve this matter within the framework of international law,” they said.