Politics

Black boxes retrieved from passenger flight destroyed over Iran going for analysis next month: UN agency

Iran will send the black boxes from a Ukrainian passenger jet shot down by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in January to France to be deciphered next month, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) said today.

Attempts to get independent analysis of the flight recorders have dragged on for months

A crate purportedly containing the two black boxes, which was recovered from the crashed Ukrainian airliner. (IRIB VIA WANA/Handout via REUTERS)

Iran will send the black boxes from a Ukrainian passenger jet shot down by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in January to France to be deciphered next month, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) said today.

Fifty-five Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents of Canada were among the 176 people killed when Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 was shot down by two Iranian missiles shortly after takeoff from Tehran on Jan. 8.

After initially denying any responsibility for the crash, Iranian officials were forced to admit that an IRGC air defence battery unintentionally shot down the airliner minutes after departing Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport amid heightened tensions with U.S. forces in neighbouring Iraq.

The Montreal-based UN civil aviation agency announced on Twitter that Iran had informed it that the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder would be read out in France on July 20 with the participation of all countries involved.

The French Civil Aviation Safety Investigation Authority, BEA, confirmed that Iran had requested its technical assistance with repairing the boxes and downloading their data.

Canada's Transportation Safety Board confirmed that agency "has been invited to participate in the download of the recorders and will deploy a team of investigators who specialize in aircraft recorder download and analysis."

In a joint statement, Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne and Transport Minister Marc Garneau welcomed the announcement.

"We will continue to hold Iran to account and seek accountability, transparency, justice and compensation for the victims of this tragedy, including a thorough, credible and transparent investigation," said the statement.

Families want more answers

Hamed Esmaeilion, spokesperson for the association representing the families of the Canadians who died on the flight from Tehran to Kyiv, told Radio Canada International that the tweet by ICAO "continues to raise questions and disappoint."

"The black box is merely the first small window into this horrific crime and will not tell all of the story behind the atrocities that took our loved ones from us," said Esmaeilion, whose wife Parisa and nine-year-old daughter Reera died on the flight.

Hamed Esmaeilion lost his wife, Parisa Eghbalian, and their nine-year-old daughter Reera in the destruction of Flight 752. (Supplied)

"The Iranian government has successfully mocked and deceived the international community, especially the complacent ICAO, to be happy when whatever remains of the black boxes are delivered."

He said the victims' families "will not fall for this" and "will not be distracted by compensation without independent investigation, adjudication under international law."

According to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, also known as Chicago Convention, Iran — as the country where the incident occurred — is "responsible for the conduct of the investigation."

Ukraine, which operated the aircraft, and the U.S., which designed and built it, are also entitled to appoint accredited representatives to take part in an investigation.

Canada sending investigators

Canada, as a state that has a "special interest" in the accident by virtue of the number of its citizens affected by it, is also entitled to appoint experts to the accident investigation, according to the convention.

Rescue teams work in the debris left by the crash near Imam Khomeini airport outside Tehran early the morning of January 8, 2020. Everyone on board was killed. (AFP via Getty Images)

Canadian experts are entitled to visit the scene of the accident and to access relevant factual information approved for public release by Iran, as well as information on the progress of the investigation and a copy of the final report.

They are not, however, allowed active participation in the air transportation safety investigation, TSB said in a statement.

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