RFL/RE – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says his country expects a full probe, a full admission of guilt, and compensation from Iran after Tehran admitted, after days of denial, it accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane, killing all 176 aboard.
Zelenskiy said “Iran has pleaded guilty to downing the Ukrainian plane. But we insist on a full admission of guilt.”
“We expect from Iran assurances of their readiness for a full and open investigation, bringing those responsible to justice, the return of the bodies of the dead, the payment of compensation, official apologies through diplomatic channels,” he added.
The statement on the Ukrainian government website on January 11 comes shortly after Iran admitted that its military “unintentionally” shot down the Ukrainian airliner outside of Tehran on January 8, citing “human error.”
On Shooting Airliner
The statement, reported by state TV earlier on January 11, quoted the military as saying the plane was mistaken for a “hostile target” after it turned toward a “sensitive military center” of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
It added that the military was at its “highest level of readiness” amid raised tensions with the United States.
The statement also said those responsible for the tragedy, which killed all aboard the plane, would “immediately” be brought to justice.
IRGC commander Amirali Hajizadeh said later in an address broadcast by state TV that his IRGC aerospace unit accepts “full responsibility” for the downing.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed his “deep sympathy” to the families of the 176 victims, and called on the armed forces to “pursue probable shortcomings and guilt in the painful incident.”
Iranian President Hassan Rohani on Twitter called the incident a “great tragedy & unforgivable mistake.”
He wrote that the military’s “internal investigation has concluded that regrettably missiles fired due to human error caused the horrific crash of the Ukrainian plane & death of 176 innocent people.”
Rohani and Zelenskiy were due to speak by phone later on January 11, the Ukrainian presidential press office said.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk said in a January 11 post on Facebook that Iran’s admission of shooting down the Ukrainian passenger jet did not mean the investigation into the tragedy was over.
The admission “is an important step in the investigation process, which is still ongoing,” Oleksiy Honcharuk said.
Germany’s foreign minister also welcomed Tehran’s decision to admit it had accidentally shot down the plane.
“It’s important that Iran has brought clarity. Now it should take the appropriate measures in the further investigation of this horrible catastrophe so that something like this cannot happen again,” Heiko Maas told German media on January 11.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the incident occurred “at a time of crisis caused by U.S. adventurism.”
Armed Forces’ internal investigation has concluded that regrettably missiles fired due to human error caused the horrific crash of the Ukrainian plane & death of 176 innocent people.
Investigations continue to identify & prosecute this great tragedy & unforgivable mistake. #PS75212.5K4:40 AM – Jan 11, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy9,799 people are talking about this
“A sad day. Preliminary conclusions of internal investigation by Armed Forces: Human error at time of crisis caused by U.S. adventurism led to disaster,” Zarif wrote on Twitter.
“Our profound regrets, apologies, and condolences to our people, to the families of all victims, and to other affected nations.”
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Until the admission, Tehran had vehemently denied allegations by Western leaders and experts that evidence indicated an Iranian missile had brought down the plane.
The Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) flight was en route to Kyiv from Tehran on January 8 carrying at least 57 Canadians, 82 Iranians, 10 Swedes, 10 Afghans, three Germans, and three Britons. Eleven Ukrainians — two passengers and nine crew — were also killed.
The Iranian statement came as the West had turned up the heat on Tehran, with the United States saying it was “likely” that an Iranian missile had shot down the craft and vowing to “take appropriate action in response.”
Separately, Canada’s foreign minister on January 10 announced the formation of an international working group of countries to press Iran for a thorough investigation into the crash, which counted 57 Canadians among the dead, a figure revised down from an earlier death toll of 63.
Initial reports blamed a technical malfunction, but doubts were quickly raised as evidence, including videos, appeared to indicate a missile attack.
The air disaster came hours after Iran targeted two Iraqi bases that house U.S. troops with missiles on January 8 in response to a January 3 U.S. air strike that killed Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad.
That led many experts to suspect Iranian antiaircraft batteries mistook the airliner for a U.S. warplane on a retaliatory mission over Tehran.
After those suggestions surfaced, Ali Abedzadeh, head of Iran’s national aviation department, told a news conference that “what is obvious for us, and what we can say with certainty, is that no missile hit the plane,”
“If they [Western leaders] are really sure, they should come and show their findings to the world” in accordance with international standards, he added.SEE ALSO:Bulldozers And Scavengers: Concerns Over Iran Crash Site
U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo on January 10 said that “we do believe it is likely that that plane was shot down by an Iranian missile,” echoing remarks by Canadian and British officials.
Pompeo said a probe into the incident would continue and that, when it is completed, he was “confident that we and the world will take appropriate action as a response.”
Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said Canada has formed a coordination group with Britain, Ukraine, Sweden, and Afghanistan to help families of victims.
With reporting by AP, AFP, Reuters, and dpa
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