Families of Iran plane crash victims demand investigation into RCMP’s Brenda Lucki

Click to play video: 'Flight PS752: Remembering the victims of the Iran plane crash' Flight PS752: Remembering the victims of the Iran plane crash
WATCH: Flight PS752: Remembering the victims of the Iran plane crash – Jan 6, 2021

Family members of the Iran plane disaster are demanding an investigation into Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner Brenda Lucki over the RCMP’s refusal to open a criminal investigation into the crash that killed 57 Canadians on board.

Three Canadian citizens who had family members on the flight — Shahin Moghaddam, who lost his wife, Shakiba, and their son, Rossitin; Mehrzad Zarei, who lost his 18-year-old son, Arad; and Ali Gorji, who lost his niece, Poureh, and husband, Arash — lodged the complaint against the commissioner, posting it onto a website dedicated to memorializing Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 on Monday.

“The Complainants request an investigation into the Conduct of the Commissioner as it relates to her decision on Flight PS752 and all the circumstances surrounding that decision,” the complaint reads.

Read more: ‘Reckless acts’ by Iran caused deadly Flight 752 crash, forensic report says

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The complaint says the three families received a letter from Lucki on July 7 that said the RCMP would not open a criminal investigation into Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, which admitted it “unintentionally” shot down the Ukrainian airliner mere minutes after takeoff from the Tehran airport on Jan. 8, 2020.

All 176 passengers onboard were killed in the resulting crash.

According to the complaint, Lucki wrote that the RCMP decided Ukraine was “the most competent authority to lead a criminal investigation into the downing,” citing Ukraine’s “greater rights to access the crash site, to the wreckage, and to witnesses and victims in other countries.”

The complaint argues the RCMP has a duty to investigate any offence against Canada’s laws, and that opening an investigation is in the public interest.

The families also say Ukraine has no special access to the evidence from the crash, much of which was destroyed by Iran.

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The complaint adds that Ukraine “does not have jurisdiction to pursue justice for … Canadian nationals,” and that Ukraine’s own law enforcement agencies were able to open a criminal investigation despite a lack of access to some key evidence.

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The plane was shot down amid heightened tensions between Iran and the United States after a U.S. strike killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani near the Baghdad airport by order of then-U.S. president Donald Trump. Iran had launched missiles into Iraq at two American military bases in retaliation just before the plane was struck.

Iran initially denied responsibility for the crash, but three days later said the Boeing 737-800 was shot down by accident after being mistaken for a missile sent by the U.S. or Iraq. The admission came after video footage on social media appeared to show at least one missile striking the jet.

On May 20, an Ontario court ruled in a civil case brought forward by the same Canadians that the downing of Flight 752 was a deliberate act of terrorism.

Read more: Iran’s secrecy on Flight 752 crash means airspace still unsafe: Goodale

A forensic report released on June 24 after an eight-month investigation found no evidence that the shoot-down was premeditated, but added Iran is “ultimately responsible for the actions it took — or failed to take” that led to the crash.

Canada has rejected Iran’s report on the incident, which blamed “human error” and sought to avoid holding top Revolutionary Guard figures responsible.

A response group representing Canada, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Sweden and the United Kingdom delivered a “notice of claim” against Iran on June 3. It lays out expectations around financial compensation for victims’ families, a formal apology, returning remains and property to loved ones and proof of measures taken to prevent similar tragedies down the line.

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Iran has yet to issue a response, which Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau said would begin negotiations.

— with files from the Canadian Press

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