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Manitobans frustrated by lack of answers from Iran after plane downed

Kourosh Doustshenas lost his fiance Dr. Forough Khadem when a Ukrainian Airlines plane was downed near Tehran. Submitted

Iran has created a compensation fund to pay the families of victims killed in the downing of flight PS752 near Tehran on Jan. 8.

One-hundred-seventy-six people were killed after Iranian forces shot down the Ukraine International Airlines jetliner near Tehran, including nine Winnipeggers.

With the one-year anniversary quickly approaching, some family and friends of the Manitoba victims told Global News they are still without answers only adding to their heartbreak and lack of closure.

Kourosh Doustshenas lost his fiance Dr. Forough Khadem in the tragedy. Speaking from his office, surrounded by photos of Khadem, Doustshenas described her as a brilliant woman who was full of life.

Khadem was a scientist and researcher, and a University of Manitoba alumna.

Read more: 8 people from Winnipeg dead in Tehran plane crash

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The couple was supposed to marry this spring but their plans were stolen away by the tragedy.

“Every day I remember Forough. What we could have done. After losing her my life is changed forever,” said Doustshenas.

Calling the offer of money for families a distraction, Doustshenas stressed that there are many unanswered questions and an overall lack of responsibility.

“They’re trying to change the conversation from truth and justice to compensation,” said Doustshenas.

“We have worked very, very hard from the beginning and said families are not interested in money right now. First and foremost families want to have closure. And the way you get closure is by knowing the truth.”

Doustshenas and others have created an association representing the families of victims. The organization is calling for an independent investigation, and for officials from different countries to continue pushing Iran to hold someone responsible.

Read more: Iran says it will pay $150K to each family of Ukraine plane crash victims

Tehran has blamed the downing on human error, claiming Iranian forces fired after mistakenly identifying the plane as a threat. In a report released this summer, it blamed those manning a misaligned surface-to-air missile battery, saying they opened fire without getting approval from ranking officials.

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Questions remain over the identities of the people deemed responsible and countries including Canada have called on Iran to disclose all relevant evidence.

Doustshenas continues to meet with Canadian officials and told Global News he has dedicated his existence to seeking justice for Khadem and the other victims.

“As long as I’m alive… I’ll do everything I can,” said Doustshenas.

“Whoever I need to talk to, I will talk to. Whatever I need to do. Not only me, there are other family members doing the same thing. We will not let them get away with this.”

His frustration is echoed by Mojtaba Montazeri, who lost his friends Mehdi Sadeghi, Bahareh Haj Esfandiari and their young daughter Anisa Sadeghi.

“The family is gone. The whole family is gone. What’s the value of that money?” questioned Montazeri.

“I’m not talking on behalf of their family, I’m just talking about myself. As a person who lost their friends.”

Montazeri choked back tears as he remembered the kind individuals he said enriched his community. Stressing the sadness and grief 2020 has brought, Montazeri said he has saved the last text he received from his friend Mehdi,

Calling an independent investigation a basic right, Montazeri also hopes 2021 will bring answers and some closure.

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Click to play video: 'Families of downed flight demand justice nearly 1 year after fatal crash in Iran' Families of downed flight demand justice nearly 1 year after fatal crash in Iran
Families of downed flight demand justice nearly 1 year after fatal crash in Iran – Oct 17, 2020

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