Ukraine demands punishment for Iran plane downing

Ukraine on Saturday demanded that Iran punish those guilty for the downing of a Ukrainian airliner and compensate victims while praising Tehran for cooperating with an “objective” investigation.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky was due to discuss the incident with his Iranian counterpart President Hassan Rouhani at 5:00 pm, his press office said.

“We expect Iran to bring the guilty to the courts,” the Ukrainian leader wrote on Facebook, calling also for the “payment of compensation” and the return of remains.

Tehran admitted Saturday that it accidentally downed the Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) plane, killing all 176 people on board on Wednesday, shortly after launching missiles at bases hosting US forces in Iraq.

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Rouhani said Tehran “deeply regrets this disastrous mistake.”

Tehran has invited the United States, Ukraine, Canada and others to join the crash investigation.

Kiev said that Iran had cooperated with its experts and it expects an objective probe.

Tehran has handed Ukrainian experts enough data including “all the photos, videos and other materials” to show the investigation “will be carried out objectively and promptly,” Zelensky’s office said.

“The political part of the work is finished,” it added.

It published photos of experts examining the scene and close-ups of holes in the fuselage and shrapnel damage.

Ukraine said Friday its experts dispatched to Iran had been granted access to the flight’s black boxes, debris from the plane, the crash site and to recordings of conversations between the pilot and the airport control tower.

Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s national security and defence council which is coordinating the probe, told AFP Kiev did not yet have evidence on where the missile was produced, only that it was “launched from Iranian soil.”

Zelensky said earlier that Ukraine hoped the inquiry would be pursued “without deliberate delay and without obstruction.”

He urged “total access” for the 45 Ukrainian experts, and in a tweet also sought an “official apology.”

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