For more than three days, officialdom in Iran maintained assiduously that the crash of an Ukrainian plane on Wednesday was an accident, that the pilot reported engine trouble moments after taking off and was heading back to Tehran airport, and that while the black boxes had been recovered, some of the data had been damaged in the impact.
Over those same three days, multiple intelligence sources provided data showing that an Iranian air defence system showed the telltale signature of two missiles being fired at the Boeing 737-800, killing 176 on board as the plane took off on its scheduled flight to Kiev. And those reports were rubbished by Iranian officials as being fake news and American attempts to tarnish Iran once again.
Now, the painful truth has finally been admitted by the regime in Tehran. Yes, its air defences made a “disastrous mistake” and had fired two missiles at the unarmed civilian plane — an egregious error while its military was on high alert for US air strikes following Iran’s missile attacks on military targets in Iraq earlier that evening.
The admittance by Tehran that it was to blame solves the mystery of why the four-year-old plane with an up-to-date service and maintenance history should end up killing all on board.
In a crude attempt to cover up their error, Iranian officials even ordered the bulldozing of the crash site, seriously hampering any independent attempt to find out what caused the plane to crash. At least now, the admittance by Tehran that it was to blame solves the mystery of why the four-year-old plane with an up-to-date service and maintenance history should end up killing all on board.
For the families and relatives of all those killed in the crash, the answer at least now is clear, though that is little comfort at a time of great suffering and emotional pain. Knowing that their loved ones has died as a direct result of human error and systems failure brings little if any solace.
Clearly, Iran now has a moral and legal responsibility to ensure that those families are compensated fully to international norms, with the compensation being but a small gesture for the loss of their loved ones. The operators of Flight 752 deserve too to be compensated for the loss of their aircraft as well as for the reputational damage this tragic mistake has inflicted upon the airline.
Some 120 of the passengers were flying onwards to Canada and there, families are still trying to come to grips with the impact of their loss on the Iranian community there. So far, authorities in Tehran have been slow to issue visas to Canadian relatives who wish to visit Iran to retrieve victims’ remains or belongings. As a gesture of restitution, if nothing else, every effort must be made by Tehran to quickly accommodate and facilitate these visa applications.
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- Ukraine plane crash: Canadian PM Trudeau says Iranian missile brought down airliner