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Radio Farda

Iran Civil Aviation Says Military Approved Flight Of Downed Ukraine Airliner

Radio Farda July 12, 2020

Iran's Civil Aviation Organization (CAO) has blamed the "forgetfulness" of an Iranian air defense unit's commander for shooting down Ukraine International Airlines' (UIA) flight 752 on January 8 over Tehran, killing all 176 aboard.

In a report on the procedure of investigation into the tragedy, CAO says although the Iranian military had permitted the doomed plane to take off, a "human error" led to firing two anti-air missiles at the airliner. CAO also says when a missile battery was moved to a new location its commander forgot to follow standard regulations which led to the tragedy.

CAO's seventeen-page report published on Saturday, July 11 has expanded on the tragedy in chronological order, reiterating that the main cause of firing missiles at UIA's plane was "human error" and "forgetting" to implement obligatory readjustment of an air-defense system in the north direction.

The "forgetfulness", CAO has insisted, led to a 107-degree error of the anti-air unit's system.

Overall, the report revealed very little new information not surmised earlier. The Islamic Republic has all along relied on the human error argument to deflect as much criticism and responsibility as possible.

After three days of secrecy and denial, "human error" was the term used by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps in January for referring to the cause of the shooting.

About two weeks ago, the Tehran military prosecutor for the first time spoke of a "105-degree error in the radar navigation system."

As Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 took off from Tehran's Imam Khomeini international airport on January 8, heading Kyiv, two missiles were fired at the plane. The three-year-old Boeing crashed near the capital city, killing all 167 people aboard.

The crash victims included 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, eleven Ukrainians, ten Sweden, four Afghans, three Germans, and three Britons. Only after three days did the Guard take responsibility for the tragedy.

CAO report says, at 4 a.m. that day, "the military informed the civil air department of the country that only the planes already identified by the air-defense network and received its permission were allowed to take off from the airports' runways.

After hours of coordination with various authorities, the flight permit for the Ukrainian passenger plane was finally issued at 6:10 a.m.

According to the CAO, the commander in charge of a "relocated" anti-air unit, "forgot" to adjust the system toward the north direction. Therefore, at 6:13 it erroneously identified the UIA's plane as "approaching the defense system".

Several Islamic Republic officials had earlier maintained that the head of the air-defense system tried to contact high-ranking officials and get their permission to fire.

Nonetheless, the CAO's report asserts that no records have been registered of messages exchanged between the commander in charge of the anti-air unit and the "Coordination Center."

Without receiving any message from the Coordination Center, the officer in charge of the anti-air unit finally fired a missile at the UIA's plane at 6:14:41 and hit it with another one at 6:15:11, local time (+5:30 GMT).

Although the Islamic Republic has repeatedly admitted that it is not capable to decipher and read the data recorded on the plane's black boxes, it has failed to handover the flight recorders to other countries.

Nonetheless, Tehran recently announced that the black boxes will be read in France sometime in July.

Dissatisfied with the "Iranian-style" co-operation on issues such as black boxes and the Islamic Republic's legal liability for compensation to victims' relatives, Ukrainian officials have warned that should efforts fail to resolve the issues through "negotiation", they will be left with no choice other than referring the case to international litigation.

At the same time, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said on July 2 that Iran has agreed to compensate the families of the victims of the Ukrainian plane.

Meanwhile, the interim spokesperson of the victims' association, Hamed Esmaeilion, in a tweet on Thursday, July 4 said the families of the victims have unanimously agreed they will not accept any compensation from Iran before a full and fair independent investigation is made.

In another tweet, on the same day, Esmaeilion who lost his daughter and wife in the crash said he had received a call from the Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne who assured him that there was no agreement between the affected countries and Iran regarding compensation yet.

Source: https://en.radiofarda.com/a/iran-civil- aviation-says-military-approved-flight-of-downed -ukraine-airliner/30721985.html

Copyright (c) 2020. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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