Victims’ loved ones say Iranian report into downing of Ukrainian flight 752 lacks details

Click to play video: 'Devastated Canadians mark anniversary of Flight PS752 disaster' Devastated Canadians mark anniversary of Flight PS752 disaster
WATCH: Devastated Canadians mark anniversary of Flight PS752 disaster – Jan 8, 2021

Those who lost loved ones on Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 say the Iranian Aircraft Accident Investigation Board’s final report into the downing of the plane offers no answers.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada confirmed it received the report Wednesday.

“In the past 14 months we’ve been faced with the same ambiguity and deceit and this report is just a continuity of that,” Daniel Ghods said after reviewing the document.

Ghods’ girlfriend Saba Saadat was killed along with her sister Sara and mother Shekoufeh Choupannejad.

“Now that it’s apparent that they’re not providing any information on very simple details into the downing of the flight, more steps must be taken to obtain the truth and justice.”

The federal government echoed that critic, saying it is “deeply concerned” about the “lack of convincing information” released.

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“The report makes no attempt to answer critical questions about what truly happened. It appears incomplete and has no hard facts or evidence,” Marc Garneau, Canadian minister of foreign affairs, and Omar Alghabra, Canadian minister of transport, said in a joint statement released Wednesday.

All 176 people on board Flight PS752 — including 55 Canadian citizens — were killed on Jan. 8, after Iranian Revolutionary Guards fired two missiles at the plane minutes after takeoff.

Read more: Iran plane crash: What has happened in the year since Flight PS752 was shot down?

The government is continuing to call for a “comprehensive and transparent” investigation conducted according to international standards.

Ghods and other victims’ families say those calls are not enough.

The Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims wants Canada to push for an impartial and international investigation.

“What the families are asking for is the Government of Canada, alongside its partners and as well as Ukraine, to take this case to international courts,” explained Ghods. “For example, the International Court of Justice, because we believe that it’s only though an independent body like that that the perpetrators of this crime will be held responsible.”

Under international civil aviation law, the Iranian government led the investigation.

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The report, which Canada’s Transportation Safety Board says it will comment on at a news conference scheduled for Thursday, echoes what the Iranian military said last year: human error caused the tragedy _ an explanation found wanting by multiple countries that lost citizens.

Iran initially denied responsibility for the crash, but three days later said the Kyiv-bound Boeing 737-800 was shot down by accident after being mistaken for a missile amid heightened tensions with the United States. The admission came after video footage on social media appeared to show at least one missile striking the jet.

Click to play video: 'Flight PS752: Loved ones push for justice from Iran' Flight PS752: Loved ones push for justice from Iran
Flight PS752: Loved ones push for justice from Iran – Jan 8, 2021

The disaster unfolded after Iran launched missiles into Iraq at two American military bases in retaliation for the U.S. having killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani near the Baghdad airport by order of then-U.S. president Donald Trump.

“Their families deserve answers to important questions, including on the series of events that led to these missiles being launched in the first place, and why the airspace was allowed to remain open during a period of heightened hostilities,” Garneau and Alghabra said in their joint statement.

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Britain, Ukraine Afghanistan and Sweden also lost citizens when the plane was destroyed, and the countries formed a coalition with Canada to deal with Iran.

Read more: Canadians mark anniversary of Flight PS752 crash in Iran that killed 176

A series of mistakes led to the fatal missile launch, the Iranian investigation team found.

An incorrect read on the plane’s flight direction due to “human error” caused an operator to perceive the aircraft as flying northeast toward Tehran at a low altitude, rather than flying west away from the main airport, which it was.

The operator tried to alert the command centre to the apparent threat, “but the message was never relayed,” the report states.

“Without receiving a go-ahead or response from the command centre, he came to identify the target as a hostile one and fired missile (sic) at the aircraft against the procedure planned.”

Click to play video: 'Father who lost family on Flight PS752 lives for justice' Father who lost family on Flight PS752 lives for justice
Father who lost family on Flight PS752 lives for justice – Jan 8, 2021

The first warhead exploded near the aircraft, hurling more than 2,500 pieces of shrapnel toward it at nearly 6,500 km/h — more than five times the speed of sound — damaging the plane and aircraft systems but leaving its structural integrity intact, according to the report.

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“(T)he three cockpit crew members were all still alive. They appeared to have sustained no physical injuries.”

The second missile “likely” did affect the aircraft, but the plane plummeted to the ground regardless, crashing near the airport and exploding on impact six minutes after takeoff and three minutes after the first missile detonated, the report said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has urged Iran to provide justice and transparency to the victims and their families.

Those families say they want Canada to release any information it has that can “shed light on the truth or aid in the process of seeking justice.”

While hearing and seeing those details could be tough, Ghods said it would help loved ones.

“We’ve just been in pain and in agony not knowing the truth and not knowing what happened. In a way, we haven’t had any closure. So of course it will be difficult when more details are brought to light, but I think it’s necessary to realize the truth about what happened.”

Read more: ‘We are looking for the truth’: Ontario father of Iran plane crash victim seeks answers, one year later

In December, Iran pledged to pay $150,000 to each family that lost someone on the plane, but the offer was rejected by Ralph Goodale, the former Liberal public safety minister who was named Canada’s special adviser on the response to the crash.

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He said Iran doesn’t have the right to offer compensation to victims’ families unilaterally and that the final amount will be subject to negotiations between Iran and Canada and the four other countries whose citizens were killed on the plane.

Trudeau has promised Canada will offer a pathway to permanent residency for some family members, while those already here could apply to stay if needed. He also designated Jan. 8 as the National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Air Disasters.

The federal government also said scholarships would be set up in memory of the victims.

— With files from Global News’ Emerald Bensadoun and Breanna Karstens-Smith

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