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Ukraine president 'threatens' Iran with lawsuit over downed jetliner

Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky has threatened to file a lawsuit against Iran [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 June, 2020

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In an interview with Canada’s The Globe and Mail, Zelensky said that Iran’s commitments were not only limited to handing over the flight’s black boxes.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky has threatened to file a lawsuit against Iran if it fails to fulfil its obligations regarding a Ukranian airliner shot down in January over Tehran, including the delivery of its black box.

Flight 752, a Ukraine International Airlines jetliner, was struck by two missiles and crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran airport on 8 January.

The Islamic Republic admitted days later that its forces accidentally shot down the Kiev-bound jetliner, killing all 176 people on board, most of whom were citizens of Ukraine or Canada.

In an interview with Canada's The Globe and Mail, Zelensky said that Iran's commitments were not only limited to handing over the flight's black boxes - something it has only recenly moved towards.

"It is also about their (other) promises. They have to give an official apology. They have to pay adequate compensations." Zelensky said.

"Otherwise, we will have no other choice - and they know our position - but to resort to the international courts" he warned.

Last week, Iranian authorities claimed that the coronavirus pandemic had slowed plans to dispatch of the black boxes and that the process would be resumed as restrictions on international flights are lifted.

Read more: Iran says coronavirus delays reading of Ukraine airline black boxes

Following the Monday publication of Zelensky interview, Iran's Foreign Ministry tweeted that it was ready to send the black boxes to France for analysis "in the next few days".

Iran lacks the technical means to decode the black boxes, which are expected to contain vital information about the last moments before the aircraft was struck and crashed.

Countries around the world, including Canada, who lost 63 citizens in the tragedy, have pressed Iran for months to send the items abroad so that their contents can be analysed.

On Twitter, Iran's foreign ministry said that its minister, Javad Zarif, had notified Ukraine of his country's readiness to "address the legal issues" including the "procedure for paying compensation to the families of the passengers who have died" as well as "paying compensation for the Ukranian jetliner".

The January shooting of the airliner came amid heightened tensions between the US and Iran.

Tehran's air defences had been on high alert at the time in case the US retaliated against Iranian strikes hours earlier on bases in Iraq housing American troops.

These strikes were carried out in response to the killing of a top Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, in a US drone strike near Baghdad airport.

In the immediate aftermath of the crash, Iranian civilian authorities insisted it was likely caused by a technical malfunction, vehemently denying claims the plane was shot down.

But in the early hours of 11 January, the Iranian military admitted that the plane was shot down due to "human error", resulting in the deaths of 176 people, mainly Iranians and Canadians, including many dual nationals.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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