Iranian report on January plane crash not trustworthy: Widower of Iranian-Edmontonian killed
EDMONTON -- The widower of a woman who was among 13 Iranian Edmontonians killed when their flight was shot down by the Iranian government says a report by Iran on the causes of the crash – a misaligned missile battery, among others – provides some insight, but can't fully be trusted.
Saturday report by Iran's Civil Aviation Organization came six months after Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 was shot down by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 55 Canadian citizens, 30 permanent residents and dozens of others with connections to Canada. Thirteen were residents of Alberta's capital city.
The report detailed a series of moments where the shootdown of PS752 by two Revolutionary Guard missiles could have been avoided, starting with the surface-to-air missile battery that targeted the Boeing 737-800 having been relocated and not properly reoriented.
Those manning the missile battery also could not communicate with their command centre, the report said. They also misidentified the civilian flight as a threat and opened fire twice without getting approval from ranking officials.
"If each had not arisen, the aircraft would not have been targeted," the report said.
But for a family member waiting for answers in Edmonton, the report doesn't provide closure.
"We don't trust any investigation, any report prepared or conducted by Iranian regime," Javad Soleimani told CTV News Edmonton.
His wife, 29-year-old Elnaz Nabiyi, had been one of the Edmonton residents on the plane.
Soleimani pointed to Iran's days-long denial of any involvement in the crash immediately after it happened in demonstrating the need for an independent investigation by international authorities.
"Do you trust Iranian regime or not?" Soleimani asked.
"We know that they are working hard, but we expect more from the Canadian government and also international community."
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The plane's black box heads to Paris on July 20.
Western intelligence officials and analysts believe Iran shot down the aircraft with a Russian-made Tor system, known to NATO as the SA-15. The system is mounted on a tracked vehicle and carries a radar and a pack of eight missiles.
The report did not say why the Guard moved the air defence system, but noted the Ukrainian flight had done nothing out of the ordinary up until the missile launch, with its transponder and other data being broadcast.
An Iranian government spokesperson said in June six people involved had been arrested, three of whom at the time had been released on bail.
Global Affairs Canada spokesman Sylvain Leclerc did not comment directly on the report's findings, but reiterated calls by the foreign affairs minister for a fully and transparent investigation.
"Canada and its partners will continue working to ensure transparency, accountability, justice, compensation and closure for the families of the victims of this terrible tragedy," Leclerc said in a statement.
Soleimani is waiting.
"Discovering the truth and prosecuting and punishing all those people responsible for this atrocity is our first priority."
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Sarah Plowman and The Canadian Press' Lee Berthiaume