Edmonton

Families of Iran plane crash victims want to play a larger role in investigation

Families of those killed on Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 are pushing for an independent investigation and prosecution of those responsible for shooting down the plane.

'Justice is discovering all the truth and prosecuting all those responsible for this heinous crime'

Javad Soleimani and his wife, Elnaz Nabiy, both studied at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. (Submitted by Mohammad Javad Soleimani Meimandi)

Families of those killed on Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 are pushing for an independent investigation and prosecution of those responsible for shooting down the plane.

Javad Soleimani, whose wife Elnaz Nabiy was on the flight, told Edmonton AM Tuesday he needs to know what happened in order to heal.  

Compensation for the loss of his wife, who was a PhD student at the University of Alberta like himself, isn't enough, Soleimani said. 

"Justice for families is not compensation," he said. "Compensation is a secondary thing for families.

"We need closure to know what exactly happened on that night. Justice is discovering all the truth and prosecuting all those responsible for this heinous crime."

According to Reuters, compensation for families will be discussed Thursday during an Iranian delegation visit to Ukraine.

Further details are to be announced Friday.

The black boxes from flight PS752 shot down in Iran have been interpreted. A man who lost his wife on that flight will tell us what he wants to see next. 6:41

Thirteen people from Edmonton — nine citizens and four international students — were on the plane that was shot down on Jan.8 shortly after taking off from Tehran.

All 176 people on board the plane were killed, including 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents and dozens of others with connections to Canada.

The Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims, of which Soleimani is a member, said in a statement Tuesday it has three main issues with the ongoing investigation into the crash, including Iran's conflict of interest in leading the investigation. 

The statement from the group of victims' families also said it has problems with the lack of role countries like Canada have in the investigation, considering the loss of so many of its citizens. The association also wants victim families to participate in the investigation. 

"It's necessary to remind all Canadians that 55 Canadians were murdered in the downed flight," Soleimani said.

"I think we need Canadians to be more sensitive on the downing of Flight 752 and ask the Canadian government to put more pressure on the Iranian government."

Preliminary analysis

A Ukraine government minister said last week a preliminary analysis of flight recorders revealed Iran illegally shot down the passenger jet.

There are fears the investigation may be compromised as Iran is the official investigator even though its own military is accused of shooting down the plane.

Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne is publicly pressing Iran to share the contents of the flight recorders.

Champagne said earlier last week that the flight recorders would form one part of a flight safety investigation and an international criminal investigation to identify the people responsible for shooting down the plane.

Two investigators from Canada's Transportation Safety Board recently took part in examining a readout of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from the downed plane, following a long negotiation with Tehran, but international law prevents the sharing of any specific information.

Canada is urging Iran to release factual information from the recorders as soon as possible.

Almost seven months after the crash, Soleimani is still hoping to get answers.

He said families need more information about what happened to the plane carrying their loved ones.

"We know the Canadian government is working on this case, but honestly Canadian families of victims expect more and Canada needs to play a more active role on this case."

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