Dual citizens killed in the downing of a Ukrainian passenger jet earlier this month near Tehran, Iran will be treated as Iranian citizens, the country’s foreign ministry announced on Monday.
In a televised weekly news conference, Abbas Mousavi, a spokesman for Iran‘s foreign ministry, said the country considers dual nationals killed in the downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 earlier this month Iranian citizens, adding that the country is “mourning their deaths.”
“We have informed Canada that Tehran considers dual nationals who were killed in the plane crash as Iranian citizens,” Mousavi said.
Iran does not recognize dual nationality. While it is possible for an individual to hold both Iranian citizenship and a second citizenship, Iran only recognizes them as Iranian.
A total of 176 people were killed — including 57 Canadians — when Iran’s Revolutionary Guard used surface-to-air missiles to down the plane minutes after it took off.
Iran admitted responsibility for the incident but said it was “unintentional” and caused by “human error.”
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In an statement emailed to Global News Monday evening, Global Affairs spokesperson Guillaume Bérubé called the incident a “national tragedy” and said the repatriation process “is underway.”
“Canada has expressed to Iranian authorities the clear expectation that the handling of the ramins of all 57 Canadian citizens and 29 permanent residents of Canada will be undertaken according to the wishes of the families,” the statement reads.
Canadian Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne last Wednesday dismissed the Iranian position on dual nationality as “nonsense.”
At a press conference on Wednesday, Canada’s Transport Minister Marc Garneau said a “Canadian is a Canadian.”
“So our view, the 57 Canadians that lost their life tragically are Canadian citizens, and they are entitled to all the rights that Canadian citizens have,” he said. “And we will do our utmost to make sure that those rights are afforded to them.”
Speaking to media on Sunday, Champagne said all of the next of kin of the Canadians killed in the crash have been notified and that their wishes are “paramount.”
Champagne said in some cases, burials are taking place while in others, repatriation is taking place.
A number of families remain undecided on how they would like to proceed, Champagne said, but once the government receives word of their wishes, he says officials will “follow up.”
“As of today, what I can see and what has been reported, the wishes of the families is paramount, and we will ensure that this is the case in all cases,” he said.
On Thursday, Canadian officials hosted the members of the International Co-ordination and Response Group — Ukraine, Sweden, Afghanistan and the United Kingdom — at Canada House in London, U.K.
During the meeting, officials determined victim identification and repatriation was one of five key elements that would guide their co-operation with Iran during the investigation.
Officials said they will work to ensure “that the victim identification process is conducted with dignity, transparency and according to international standards and that the wishes of the families regarding repatriation are respected in all cases.”
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Last week, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the Canadian government would be giving $25,000 to the families of the victims to assist with funeral arrangements, travel and other “immediate needs” but said he still expects Iran to compensate the victims.
“I want to be clear. We expect Iran to compensate these families,” he said at a news conference in Ottawa. “I have met them. They can’t wait weeks. They need support now.”
Investigation and black box analysis
In an update, Canada’s Transportation Safety Board (TSB) said investigators working on the crash departed Tehran early Sunday morning after holding “several meetings” with Iranian investigators and having visited the crash site.
This week, the TSB said investigators will travel to Ukraine to meet with the National Bureau of Air Accidents Investigation of Ukraine (NBAAI).
Meanwhile, questions remain regarding the plane’s black boxes, including where and by whom they will be analyzed.
Canada and the international working group have expressed their wish for the black boxes to be sent to either Ukraine or France for analysis.
The international working group held a call on Sunday, according to a Monday tweet by Canada’s foreign affairs minister. A call summary says Champagne and his Ukrainian counterpart have briefed the group — consisting of representatives from Canada, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Sweden and the U.K. — on their meetings with their Iranian counterparts.
“All countries noted that Iran is cooperating with foreign experts in the investigation to date,” said the call readout. “They emphasized that it is imperative that Iran allow for a thorough and credible international safety investigation into the causes of the crash.”
The group also insists that Iran take “full responsibility, including by providing compensation.” They also called on Iran to “move the black boxes to a facility with all of the technology and expertise to quickly and reliably download and analyze the data without delay.”
“Iran has indicated it is willing to do so,” the call summary said.
— With files from Reuters