By Barry Ellsworth
TRENTON, Canada (AA) – Countries that lost citizens in the accidental downing of a Ukrainian airliner by Iran met Thursday and demanded “five key elements” that must be adhered to, including compensation for victims’ families.
All 167 passengers and nine crew died when the plane was brought down by Iranian missiles, Jan. 8, shortly after takeoff from an airport at Tehran.
The victims were from six countries: Iran (82), Canada (57) Ukraine (11), Sweden (10), Afghanistan (4) and the U.K. (3).
Thursday’s meeting saw officials from those countries, excepting Iran, gather at Canada House in London. Canada chaired the meeting.
“There are many, many questions,” said Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne at a press conference following the meeting. “The international community wants answers.”
The countries made five demands: Iran allow full consular services in the country on behalf of the families, a detailed identification process for victims, a thorough investigation of the crash “open to grieving nations,” Iran assuming full responsibility for the downing of the aircraft and agrees to provide compensation to victims’ families, and a full and complete criminal investigation to bring those responsible for shooting down the airliner to justice.
Iran is cooperating, Champagne said, but should that discontinue, there are other actions the nations can adopt. Those could include legal action and resolutions by the United Nations Security Council.
Iran initially said it did not bring down the plane, then later admitted “human error” culminated in the firing of the missiles. The announcement was followed by anti-regime demonstrations in Iran.
The disaster occurred a few hours after Iran fired missiles at Iraqi bases in retaliation for the U.S. killing of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said this week that the killing inflamed tensions which led to the downing of the aircraft.
“I think if there were no tensions, if there was no escalation recently in the region, those Canadians would be home right now with their families,” Trudeau said.
Iran arrested several people it says were guilty of firing the missiles but experts say they are likely low-level personnel taking the blame to protect more high-ranking officials.