Families want compensation for downed Ukrainian plane

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.

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By Handan Kazanci

ANKARA (AA) - Anadolu Agency is here with a rundown of the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic and other news in Turkey and around the world.

- Coronavirus in Turkey

Turkey on Thursday confirmed 926 additional recoveries as the country began easing measures against the novel coronavirus, according to the country’s health minister.

The total number of recoveries from the disease hit 131,778 as 926 more patients were discharged from hospitals over the past day, Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter, citing Health Ministry data.

The country's death toll from the outbreak rose to 4,630 as Turkey reported 21 new fatalities over the last 24 hours.

Turkey conducted over 54,000 COVID-19 tests in the past 24 hours, bringing the total tally to more than 2.2 million, said Koca.

Meanwhile, Turkey plans to resume international flights to 40 countries gradually as of June 10, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoglu said Thursday.

International flights from Turkey will carry passengers first to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Qatar and Greece, Karaismailoglu said in a statement.

Turkey suspended all international flights on March 28 amid COVID-19-related travel restrictions worldwide.

- Global coronavirus developments

A low death toll was once again recorded Thursday as France recovers from the coronavirus pandemic which plagued the country over the last three months, according to the latest statistics reported by the Health Ministry.

The country registered a total of 46 deaths in hospitals Thursday, a drop of 39 cases over those reported Wednesday.

Italy on Thursday reported 88 more fatalities from the pandemic, bringing the death toll to 33,689 as authorities unveiled new guidelines to prevent crowded summer spots like beach resorts from becoming new virus hotbeds.

The slowing trend in the number of deaths registered in May continued in early June, confirming that the peak of the crisis has been passed.

Face masks on English public transport will be mandatory from June 15, the British government announced Thursday, as a further 176 people died from the coronavirus over the past 24 hours.

British authorities announced that the UK-wide death toll from COVID-19 is now 39,904.

As Spain prepares for its state of emergency over COVID-19 to last until June 21, the Health Ministry reported Thursday that 195 more people were infected with the coronavirus and five more had died.

The number of infections diagnosed Wednesday was down slightly from the 219 people who tested positive Tuesday but up from Monday and Sunday. In total, 240,660 infections have been confirmed in the country.

Health officials in the Palestinian enclave of Gaza announced Thursday the arrival of medical supplies sent by Turkey to help fight the novel coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement, Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra confirmed that two polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines had been delivered for detecting the virus.

- George Floyd Memorial service

Hundreds of mourners on Thursday attended the first of several memorials for George Floyd – an unarmed black man who was killed in police custody on May 25.

The service at North Central University in Minneapolis, Minnesota was attended by Floyd's family and Ben Crump, the civil rights attorney representing the family, as well as celebrity guests.

Meanwhile, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday urged demonstrators joining protests over the death of George Floyd to get tested for the novel coronavirus.

Speaking at his daily press briefing, Cuomo said around 30,000 people have taken part in the statewide protests demanding justice for the killing of the unarmed black man in police custody.

Of them, 20,000 were involved in rallies in New York City.

In Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged citizens not to overlook the racism problem in Germany while intensely discussing racism and police brutality in the US after the death of George Floyd.

"This murder of George Floyd is very, very terrible. Racism is something terrible,” Merkel said Thursday evening in an exclusive interview with public broadcaster ZDF.

“Racism has always been present, but sadly we also have this [problem]. We should first sweep in front of our own door,” she stressed.

- Other developments

Turkey and Libya plan to advance cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean, including exploration and drilling activities, to further benefit from natural resources, Turkey’s president said in a meeting with Libya’s prime minister Thursday.

The meeting between Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Fayez al-Sarraj took place at the presidential palace in the Turkish capital Ankara.

Erdogan said Turkey and Libya have reached a consensus on expanding their cooperation areas on the territory of Libya.

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