Sun, 29 Mar 2020

Five countries that lost citizens in the downing of a Ukrainian airliner are calling on Iran to conduct an open investigation and to provide compensation to the victims' families.

The demands came from Ukraine, Canada, Afghanistan, Sweden and the United Kingdom after the foreign ministers of those countries met Thursday at the Canadian High Commission in London.

The ministers called for "an independent criminal investigation followed by transparent and impartial judicial proceedings."

The Ukraine International Airlines plane was mistakenly shot down Jan. 8 by Iranian ballistic missiles shortly after takeoff from an airport in Tehran, killing all 176 people on board.

Among the victims were 57 Canadians, 17 people from Sweden, 11 Ukrainians, four Afghans, four British citizens and Iranians.

Iran originally said technical difficulties led to the downing of the plane but admitted days later amid mounting evidence that its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard had accidentally fired missiles at the jetliner.

The plane was shot down amid heightened tensions between Iran and the United States over the killing of Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. drone strike.

Iran retaliated by firing missiles at Iraqi bases that house U.S. troops.

Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau said Wednesday that two Canadian investigators joined an international team of investigators in Iran. He said the investigators were collaborating effectively, but that Canada was still demanding an official role in the investigation.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said this week the victims would be alive if tensions had not escalated in the Middle East. "

If there was no escalation recently in the region, those Canadians would be right now home with their families," Trudeau told in an interview with Global News Television. "This is something that happens when you have conflict and the war. Innocents bear the brunt of it."

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