Ukraine is demanding an official explanation after an Iranian lawmaker said that his country’s military “did well” when it downed a Ukrainian passenger airliner on Jan. 8, killing 176 people on board.
“Given that the plane was being controlled by other countries, our military forces did their job well,” lawmaker Hassan Norouzi told a state-run Iranian outlet on April 5.
He went on to say that the plane’s movements were “very suspicious,” and that it “appeared to have come under America’s control.” The plane “was in Israel the week before and appeared to have been tampered with and manipulated there,” he claimed.
“Considering this evidence, it would be meaningless to arrest the individuals involved (in the downing),” Norouzi said. No arrests would be made, he added.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Vadym Prystaiko, who served as foreigner minister at the time of the downing, demanded Iran explain itself in an April 6 message on Twitter.
“We expect an immediate explanation from #Iran on this deplorable statement. It shows full disrespect for human lives. Dozens of families from Iran, Ukraine, Canada, Sweden, UK & Afghanistan lost their loved ones in the attack against defenseless civilian aircraft,” he wrote.
In January, Iran shot down the Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) flight as it was taking off from Tehran airport to travel to Kyiv. All 167 passengers and 9 crew members on board were killed. Eleven Ukrainians — 9 crew members and two passengers — lost their lives in the downing.
It was the first crash and single deadliest event in the history of the Ukrainian airline.
While Iran initially claimed the plane crashed due to unknown technical problems, three days later Tehran admitted that its military had shot down the aircraft with two missiles, which it said were fired by mistake.
The website of the country’s armed forces refuted his claim about arrests on April 6. It said that “a number of people were arrested and indicted,” without giving further details, U.S. government-funded Farsi-language outlet Radio Farda reported the same day.
On April 6, the Judicial Organization of Iran’s Armed Forces stated on its website that Norouzi’s comment was ”his personal interpretation,” and that “a criminal case has been filed against him” for “spreading lies and disturbing public opinion.”
However, Iran still refuses to hand over the black boxes of the plane, and Ukraine has not received any news from the investigation, UIA President Yevhen Dykhne told the Ukrainska Pravda news site on April 1.
“I have no information that the technical investigation in Iran has been completed, which means that no one’s culpability has been established in this disaster,” he said.
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