The Iranian cabinet set up a compensation fund to pay families of the 176 victims of a Ukrainian passenger plane that was shot down by Iranian forces outside Tehran last January, the president said on Wednesday.
Iran will pay $ 150,000 for each victim, state television reported without specifying a schedule. The announcement comes as the victims’ families prepare for the January 8th anniversary of the crash and diplomats from countries that have lost citizens urge Iran to cooperate more on investigative and redress issues.
Those killed include dozens of Canadian citizens and permanent residents, as well as many others with ties to Canadian universities.
Canada’s foreign minister said in a statement that “Canada and the other members of the International Coordination and Response Group (CG) are taking a coordinated approach to obtaining reparations from Iran, which includes not only compensation for the families but also accounting Events that led to the tragic outcome. “
François-Philippe Champagne said that there were no negotiations or meetings between Iran and the other countries and that “Iran made no formal offers to the CG countries”.
For days, Iran denied that its military was responsible for the plane crash. However, with extensive evidence from Western intelligence reports and international pressure build-up, Iran admitted that its military mistakenly shot the Ukrainian jetliner at a moment of increasing tensions between Iran and the United States.
The hostilities had reached a fever point the week before when an American drone attack killed Iran’s top general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad and raised fears of further violence in the region.
Iran accuses “human error”
Western intelligence officials and analysts believe Iran shot down the plane using a Russian-made gate system known to NATO as the SA-15.
Tehran blamed “human error” for the shooting down, saying in a report released last summer that those occupying a misaligned surface-to-air missile battery mistakenly identified civilian flight as a threat and opened fire twice without senior authority Officials get.
According to the Canadian authorities, Iran has not disclosed all relevant evidence or given satisfactory answers to a number of questions.
This includes the identity of those responsible, the exact chain of events that caused the Revolutionary Guard to open fire, and the circumstances surrounding the decision to use Iranian airspace on the same night that Iran launched a flood of ballistic missiles on US forces fired to leave Iraq open to civilian traffic.
The aircraft, a Boeing 737 of Ukraine International Airlines headed for the Ukrainian capital Kiev, carried 167 passengers and nine crew members, including 82 Iranians, 57 Canadians, 17 Swedes, 11 Ukrainians, four Afghans and four British civil servants. The route was popular with travelers to Canada.
Iran is sending mixed messages in compensation
For months, the governments of the five other affected countries have been demanding that Tehran take “full responsibility” for the crash and pay compensation to the victims’ families in accordance with international agreements.
For its part, Iran has sent mixed messages regarding compensation.
In October, Gholamreza Soleimani – the head of the country’s main insurance agency – said Iran would refuse to pay premiums because the jet was “insured by European companies”.
However, other Iranian officials have promised to negotiate compensation with the five countries.
“We made a mistake, but the basis of the compensation should be determined,” Mohsen Baharvand, deputy foreign minister, said in September. “We told our Ukrainian colleagues that international regulations are our basis.”
Victim families are pushing for legal action
A spokesman for an association of victims’ families in Canada seeking justice said the Canadian government should take legal action against Iran.
“What Iran is doing is humiliating and offensive to families,” said Hamed Esmaeilion, who lost his nine-year-old daughter Reera and his wife Parisa on the flight.
“We have to know the truth and we have to see the criminals in an impartial independent court like that [the United Nations] International Court of Justice, “he said.” We are done with Iran’s actions.
“Now it is up to our government to act and respond. Take the investigation out of them and bring them to justice.”
Champagne made no mention of legal action in his statement, but said the Canadian government would “continue to fight for justice and accountability at every turn.”
The association released a statement last week calling for an independent and transparent investigation into the crash.
“The families are vigilant and will not sign a document,” the statement said. “The murderer cannot play the part of the mourner.”