Iran has said Canada, Sweden, Ukraine, and Britain have failed to live by their own stated commitment to resolving the row over the accidental downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane in 2020 through diplomatic channels by referring the case to the World Court.
In a statement on Sunday, the Iranian Foreign Ministry stressed that the four Western countries were pursuing their "political objectives and interests" by taking legal action at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Iran.
The four countries claimed in their application to the ICJ on Wednesday that Iran had violated "a series of obligations" against the so-called Montreal Convention on the safety of civilian air travel.
They accused the Islamic Republic of failing to take all practicable measures to prevent the downing of Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 that killed all 176 people on board in January 2020, and also failing to conduct an “impartial, transparent and fair criminal investigation and prosecution.”
The four countries also asked the World Court to order that Iran publicly acknowledge its "internationally wrongful acts," apologize to the families and provide assurances that the incident will not happen again.
The foreign ministry said in its statement that Iran has formed an “independent technical group” right after the incident and took necessary actions “with goodwill, transparency, and utmost seriousness” to investigate and clarify various aspects of the tragic case.
“Following the tragic incident involving the Ukrainian plane, the Islamic Republic of Iran has officially, in accordance with domestic laws, international commitments, and with goodwill, transparency, and utmost seriousness, taken necessary actions to shed light on various aspects of the incident,” the statement said.
“It is worth mentioning that, in the aftermath of the incident, the Islamic Republic of Iran facilitated and provided assistance, including immediate visas, for over fifty specialists and experts from Ukraine and Canada to visit the scene of the incident,” it added.
The Iranian government said a technical report was prepared in the designated timeframe with the participation of experts from France, the United States, Ukraine, Canada, and Britain after the completion of investigation, adding that the report was “well-received” by the majority of the aforementioned experts.
The statement emphasized that in accordance with its legal jurisdiction, the Military Prosecutor of Tehran conducted thorough and comprehensive investigations independently, impartially, and based on the laws and regulations of the country.
“It is worth mentioning that, based on the criminal investigations conducted at the prosecutor’s office, the Military Court has held 20 sessions with families of the victims.
"After reviewing and considering the statements, arguments, and defenses of the plaintiffs and their lawyers, as well as those of the defendants, the court issued its verdict and sentenced the defendants in February 2023.
"It should be noted that some parties to the case have appealed the verdict,” the statement said.
The Iranian government underlined that the Islamic Republic, through diplomatic channels and during the proceedings, invited the embassies of Ukraine, Canada, Britain, and Sweden in Tehran to attend the court.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran has invariably expressed its readiness to engage in negotiations with relevant countries and has conducted three rounds of negotiations with the Ukrainian government in the cities of Kiev and Tehran,” the statement said.
“In addition to repeatedly expressing its willingness to engage in bilateral negotiations with Ukraine, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Sweden, the Islamic Republic of Iran, in its latest diplomatic effort, announced its readiness to engage in collective negotiations with the four governments to demonstrate goodwill and prevent the exploitation of this tragic incident for their political purposes,” it added.
“Iran is still awaiting their response to proceed with the negotiations at a designated time and place.”
Underlining that the aforementioned governments demonstrated their lack of commitment to their own request for negotiations by disregarding the Islamic Republic’s proposals, the statement said, “Their request for negotiations was practically a means to pursue their political objectives and interests as they referred the matter to the International Court of Justice.”
On January 8, 2020, the Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752, en route to Kiev and transporting mostly Iranians, crashed minutes after takeoff near the Iranian capital.
The plane was shot down by Iran’s air defenses, which mistook the aircraft for a military target amid tensions between Tehran and Washington following the US assassination of revered Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq days earlier.
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.
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