Victims' governments demand justice on anniversary of plane downing
"We urgently call on Iran to provide a complete and thorough explanation of the events and decisions that led to this appalling plane crash," the coordination and response group made up of Canada, Britain, Ukraine, Sweden and Afghanistan said in a statement.
They also said they "will hold Iran to account to deliver justice and make sure Iran makes full reparations to the families of the victims and affected countries."
In Toronto, in Canada's Ontario province, nearly 200 people gathered under cloudy skies Friday afternoon in front of the University of Toronto before holding a march in honor of the crash victims, according to an AFP photographer at the scene.
Many people carried signs depicting the victims' photos and names. Other people wore black face masks printed with the word "Justice".
Among the marchers was Hamid Niazi, who lost his wife, daughter and son in the crash.
"I am not sure how I can explain that, I am still in (a) state of denial and disbelief. I can't believe that that happened to my family," he told AFP.
"Sometimes I think I am having a nightmare, that this couldn't happen."
In Kiev, where the doomed plane was bound, wreaths of flowers were laid on the site of a future memorial dedicated to the victims. A giant screen showed photos of the passengers and crew members.
'Thorough, transparent and credible investigation'
At the end of December, Iran offered to pay US$150,000 to each of the families of the victims of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, acknowledging that its forces had mistakenly shot it down on January 8, 2020, killing all 176 people on board, including 85 Canadian citizens and permanent residents.
On Thursday, Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne rejected the offer, saying: "The issue of compensation will not be set through unilateral statements by Iran but rather be subject to state-to-state negotiations."
In a separate statement on Friday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau once again demanded from Iran a "thorough, transparent and credible investigation into the cause of this tragedy".
He also vowed "to hold Iran accountable, including by ensuring that Iran makes full reparations for the victims of PS752 and their grieving families, and to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice".
In mid-December, Canada's special counsel into the tragedy, former minister Ralph Goodale, issued a 70-page report arguing that Iran should not be "investigating itself" over the matter, emphasizing that many of the key details surrounding the crash remained unknown.
Trudeau, Champagne and several other members of the government spoke with victims' families on Thursday during a private virtual commemoration.
The prime minister also recently announced that January 8 would become known as Canada's National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Air Disasters.
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