Over a week into the launch of a hearing process over the accidental downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane near Tehran, Iran has defended its investigations into the case and said it has provided “adequate” attention to all aspects of the deadly tragedy that happened early last year.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Tuesday to enlighten public opinion about the plane crash, given the start of court hearing into the case earlier this month and an ensuing statement by the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in that regard.
Kiev, in its statement, had rejected Tehran’s invitation for the Ukrainian ambassador’s participation in the court hearings, which began on November 21. It said, “As of today, the requests for international legal assistance in criminal proceedings, sent by the Ukrainian side to the competent authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran, have not been fully complied with, the requested documents and information have not been provided by the Iranian side.”
Last week, Ukraine besides Canada, Britain, and Sweden, whose nationals had been aboard the plane, also accused Iran of stalling redress for the families of victims of the downed Ukraine flight, saying Tehran has yet to agree to talks.
Tehran, however, defended the diplomatic, legal, and criminal proceedings surrounding the January 2020 incident, which saw the Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752, en route to Kiev while carrying mostly Iranians, crash minutes after takeoff near the Iranian capital, killing all of the 176 passengers on board.
“The Iranian Foreign Ministry believes that all aspects of the Ukrainian plane crash have been adequately addressed during three rounds of talks between the delegations of the two sides and other formal bilateral contacts,” the statement said. “However, the Islamic Republic of Iran is always ready to continue bilateral interactions through the embassies of the two sides or other meetings and interactions between their officials.”
Following the plane crash, it noted, Iran made utmost efforts to interact properly with the Ukrainian government on various dimensions of the accident in a constructive and professional atmosphere and based on goodwill” in order to clear possible misunderstandings in bilateral relations.
The statement read, “From a criminal and judicial perspective, the Islamic Republic of Iran, after taking into account all legal and criminal aspects and in accordance with its own rules and regulations, has taken the necessary measures to conduct criminal investigations and inquiries through the Tehran Military Prosecutor's Office against the accused and the indictment was presented to the court by the Prosecutor. The first court hearing was held on November 21, 2021.”
It said the court hearings were held “in due course at the discretion of the honorable judges and in compliance with all legal standards, and will continue until the result is achieved and justice is administered.”
“On the other hand, the Islamic Republic of Iran, in good faith and in order to appease the families of the victims, has set a figure as payment that will be made ex-gratia to the families of all victims (without any discrimination such as their citizenship) and with the establishment of a “Payment Headquarters” in the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development, a large number of families have been paid so far and legal steps are being taken to pay the rest,” it added.
Hours before the tragedy, Iran had launched a retaliatory missile strike against a US-run base in western Iraq and put the country’s air defenses on high alert due to increased American aerial activity in the aftermath of the strike.
Iran acknowledged days later that the mismanagement of an air defense unit’s radar system by its operator was the key human error that led to the accident.
Tehran has promised that all those culpable in the incident would face justice and allocated 200 million euros for compensation to the victim families.
On November 21, an Iranian military court started the first hearing session over the plane crash incident in the presence of the defendants, the suspects, the families of the victims and their lawyers.
At the beginning of the session, the judge said all the provisions of the criminal procedure had been taken into account during the investigation into the present case.