The Latest: Canada seeks justice for crash victims' families

By Associated Press 12 January 2020, 12:00AM

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The latest on Iran-related developments (all times local):

5:45 p.m.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his focus will be on justice for the families of those who died when Iran shot down a Ukrainian jetliner earlier this week.

Iran has taken responsibility for the shootdown, saying it was by mistake amid heightened tensions with the U.S. The crash killed all 176 people on board, including 57 Canadians.

Trudeau issued a statement Saturday saying Canada is concentrating on "closure, accountability, transparency, and justice for the families and loved ones of the victims."

Trudeau called the shootdown a national tragedy and says “all Canadians are mourning together.”

He says they will continue to work with partners around the world to ensure a complete and thorough investigation. He says the Canadian government expects full cooperation from Iranian authorities.

5:30 p.m.

Top officials of the Ukrainian airline whose plane was shot down in Iran are criticizing Iranian authorities for keeping their civilian airspace open amid hostilities with the U.S.

Ihor Sosnovskiy, the airline's vice president, says the decision was “absolutely irresponsible.”

At a news conference Saturday, he said “When you act in war then you act however you wish. But there must be protection around ordinary people. If they are shooting somewhere from somewhere, they are obliged to close the airport.”

Iran has admitted it downed the Ukraine International Airlines amid fears of a U.S. retaliation after Iran launched ballistic missiles at Iraqi bases housing U.S. forces.

Airline president Yevhen Dykhne said the Iranians gave no information of a possible threat prior to the plane's takeoff.

3:30 p.m.

Sweden's prime minister says that it is demanding Iran cooperate without any restrictions in investigating the downing of a jetliner by Iranian armed forces.

Stefan Lofven said Saturday: "The fact that a plane was shot down is terrible and horrifying. To have a civil aircraft shot down — whether accidentally or not — is an act that must be condemned and Iran must take full responsibility also in relation to those affected."

A total of 10 people with Swedish citizenship and another seven residing in Scandinavian country are believed to have been aboard the ill-fated Ukrainian International Airlines flight 752 flying out of the Iranian capital.

Sweden said it would remain in close contact with the other countries which lost their citizens in the crash.

Lofven said a foreign minister-level group was formed Friday to follow up with plane's downing and its investigation. He didn't provide further details.


2:50 p.m.

Germany's foreign minister has called on Iran to take the appropriate measures following what he said was the “catastrophe” of it inadvertently shooting down the Ukrainian plane near the Iranian capital.

Heiko Maas told Funke Mediengruppe media on Saturday: “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.”

Maas said that, “In these hours, our thoughts are with the victims and their families in all the affected nations.”


2:35 p.m.

An Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander says his unit accepts “full responsibility” for the accidental shootdown of a Ukrainian passenger plane.

In an address broadcast by state TV on Saturday, Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh says that when he learned about the downing of the plane, which killed all 176 passengers on board, “I wished I were dead.”

Iran's armed forces say they mistook the passenger plane for a hostile target in the tense aftermath of Iran's ballistic missile attack on two military bases in Iraq housing U.S. troops. That attack was retaliation for the killing of Iran's top general, Qassem Soleimani, in an American airstrike in Baghdad.


2:25 p.m.

Ukraine's prime minister says Iran's admission that it unintentionally shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet near the Iranian capital isn't the end of investigating the catastrophe.

The admission "is an important step in the investigation process, which is still ongoing," Oleksiy Honcharuk said in a Facebook post on Saturday. “Our experts are continuing to work at the scene of the tragedy with the aim of a detailed investigation of the causes and the final establishment of the truth.”


1:45 p.m.

Iran's supreme leader has offered condolences and called for an investigation after his country's armed forces acknowledged that they accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday 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.”

Iran shot down the passenger plane after it took off from Tehran, amid heightened tensions stemming from the U.S. airstrike that killed Iran's top general. The military says it mistook the plane for a hostile target after launching a ballistic missile attack on two bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq.


12:50 p.m.

The head of the Ukrainian airline whose jetliner was shot down by an anti-aircraft missile in Iran says he was sure all along that that the company was not at fault.

Iran on Saturday acknowledged that it shot down the Ukraine International plane three days earlier, killing all 176 people aboard, after repeated denials from Iranian officials.

“We did not for a second doubt that our crew and our plane could not have been the cause of this terrible, awful air catastrophe,” airline president Evgeniy Dikhne said on Facebook. "They were our best guys and girls. The best."


12:15 p.m.

Ukraine's president says Iran must take further steps, including an official apology, following its admission that one of its missiles shot down an Ukrainian passenger plane.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a statement Saturday that Ukraine expected from Iran “assurances" of a “full and open investigation, bringing the perpetrators to justice.”

He added that Ukraine expected the “paying of compensation” and “official apologies through diplomatic channels.”

He also expressed hope for the continuation of the crash investigation without delay. A team of Ukrainian investigators is in Iran.

"Our 45 specialists should get full access and cooperation to establish justice,” he said.


6:40 a.m.

Iran announced Saturday that its military “unintentionally” shot down a Ukrainian jetliner, killing all 176 aboard.

The statement came Saturday morning and blamed “human error” for the shootdown.

The jetliner, a Boeing 737 operated by Ukrainian International Airlines, went down on the outskirts of Tehran during takeoff just hours after Iran launched a barrage of missiles at U.S. forces.

Iran had denied for several days that a missile downed the aircraft. But then the U.S. and Canada, citing intelligence, said they believe Iran shot down the aircraft.

The plane, en route to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, was carrying 167 passengers and nine crew members from several countries, including 82 Iranians, at least 63 Canadians and 11 Ukrainians, according to officials.

By Associated Press 12 January 2020, 12:00AM

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