Iran cannot unilaterally set compensation for victims of downed Ukraine plane: Canadian minister

The crash on Jan 8, 2020 killed 176 people including 85 Canadian citizens and permanent residents. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

OTTAWA (AFP) - Iran cannot unilaterally decide compensation for the families of victims killed in a Ukrainian passenger plane mistakenly shot down by Teheran a year ago, Canada's foreign minister said on Thursday (Jan 7).

In an e-mail on the eve of the first anniversary of the downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, Mr Francois-Philippe Champagne told AFP that "substantive discussions with Iran" were yet to take place over the issue.

A total of 176 people died in the crash, including 85 Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

"The issue of compensation will not be set through unilateral statements by Iran but rather be subject to state-to-state negotiations," Mr Champagne said.

Amid heightened United States-Iran tensions last January, the Islamic republic admitted that its forces had accidentally shot down the Kiev-bound Boeing 737-800.

Last month, Iran said that it would pay US$150,000 (S$198,000) in compensation to each victim's family.

"While Iran admitted its liability, it comes with great responsibilities for justice, transparency and accountability" Mr Champagne said. "Reparations are more than just compensation."

In mid-December, Canada's special counsel into the tragedy, former minister Ralph Goodale, issued a 70-page report arguing that Iran should not be "investigating itself" over the matter, emphasising that many of the key details surrounding the crash still remained unknown.

Mr Champagne, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and several other members of the government spoke with victims' families on Thursday during a private virtual commemoration.

"Our thoughts today are with the families and loved ones of the victims on the eve of the first year since this terrible tragedy," Mr Champagne said in his e-mail.

Mr Trudeau recently announced that Jan 8 would become known as Canada's National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Air Disasters.

Join ST's Telegram channel here and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.