Rouhani promises Ukraine, Canada justice for victims

Demonstrators chanting during a vigil in Teheran last Saturday for the victims of the downed Ukraine International Airlines plane. After three days of denials, Teheran admitted early last Saturday that it had "unintentionally" shot down the jet after
Demonstrators chanting during a vigil in Teheran last Saturday for the victims of the downed Ukraine International Airlines plane. After three days of denials, Teheran admitted early last Saturday that it had "unintentionally" shot down the jet after a missile operator mistook the plane for a cruise missile.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

KIEV • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has told his Ukrainian counterpart that those behind the downing of the Ukrainian airliner will be brought to justice, the Ukrainian presidency said.

Mr Rouhani told Mr Volodymyr Zelensky that "all the persons involved in this air disaster will be brought to justice", it said.

The Iranian head of state "fully recognises the tragedy that has occurred due to the mistakes of soldiers of this country" and apologised, it added.

Mr Zelensky asked Teheran to allow the bodies of the 11 Ukrainian victims to be repatriated by Jan 19 and said Ukrainian diplomats had produced a list of steps to be taken to "resolve the compensation issue".

"The Iranian side agrees with Ukraine on this issue," the statement added.

After three days of denials, Teheran admitted early last Saturday that it had "unintentionally" shot down the jet after a missile operator mistook the plane for a cruise missile.

In a message posted on Facebook shortly after the admission, Mr Zelensky demanded that Teheran ensure that justice was done and compensation paid.

The Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) Boeing 737, which had been bound for Kiev, slammed into a field shortly after taking off from Teheran's Imam Khomeini International Airport before dawn last Wednesday.

Separately, Mr Rouhani, during a telephone conversation with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last Saturday, promised further investigation into the downing of the Ukrainian passenger plane which had 57 Canadians on board, state news agency Irna reported.

 
 
 
 

"Iran welcomes any international cooperation in the framework of international regulations to shed more light on the incident," Mr Rouhani said, promising further investigation into the crash.

"Canada and the world still have many questions - questions that must be answered," Mr Trudeau said in a news conference in Ottawa last Saturday. "It is absolutely necessary that Canada participate in this investigation. We expect the full cooperation of the Iranian authorities," Mr Trudeau added.

Iran and Canada cut diplomatic ties in 2012.

Mr Trudeau was yesterday set to attend what is expected to be the country's largest memorial to the victims of the disaster.

Mr Trudeau's office confirmed last Saturday that the prime minister will address the memorial service, due to be held in a basketball arena that seats 1,700 people, in the western city of Edmonton. Thirteen of the victims lived in Edmonton.

Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne will also attend.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2020, with the headline 'Rouhani promises Ukraine, Canada justice for victims'. Print Edition | Subscribe