Ukraine has demanded that Iran must prosecute its military officials responsible for the crash of the Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 on Wednesday, which led to the death of all 176 persons on board.
The demand comes just as Iran on Saturday admitted culpability for the plane crash, claiming that the plane was approaching “sensitive military centre” of its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
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Iran had previously denied that one of its missiles brought down the plane near the capital, Tehran, on Wednesday.
But according to a statement from the Iranian military on Saturday, it had done so due to “human error”.
Giving further details in a televised press conference, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, Commander of the IRGC’s Aerospace command, said the Iranian missile operator who shot down the passenger jet opened fire independently because of “communications jamming”.
Taking “full responsibility” for the crash, Hajizadeh explained that a request had been made for a no-fly zone in the area before the incident but this was rejected.
He stated that the IRGC air defence team had sent a message to the plane but after it failed to get a response from the plane’s crew 10 seconds later, the missile operator decided to shoot down the plane.
He said the operator had mistaken the Boeing 737 for a “cruise missile”, adding that the aircraft was shot down by a short-range missile that exploded next to it.
Hajizadeh said he informed the authorities about what had happened on Wednesday, days before Iran publicly admitted its involvement.
“I take full responsibility and I will obey whatever decision is taken.
“I would prefer to die rather than witness such an incident,” Hajizadeh said.
Read Also: Iran ‘Mistakenly’ Shot Down Ukrainian Plane – US
In a Facebook post, Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s President, insisted that the Iranian missile operator(s) and those who made the decision must be punished.
“We expect Iran… to bring the guilty to the courts,” the Ukrainian leader wrote.
He also demanded that Iran provide “total access” to the full inquiry for Ukrainian aviation experts and security officials sent to investigate the crash on the president’s request.
He added that Iran must return the remains to Ukraine, pay compensation and apologise through diplomatic channels.
Yevhenii Dykhne, head of Ukraine International Airlines, said at a press conference in Kiev on Saturday that Tehran should have closed the airport due to the escalation of tensions in the region following the US assassination of a top Iranian general.
“It’s absolutely irresponsible… if you’re playing at war, they were obliged to close the airport,” Dykhne said.
He earlier wrote on Facebook that the Ukrainian crew and the aircraft “were the best”.
On his part, Justin Trudeau, Canadian Prime Minister, said his government sought a full investigation and full cooperation from the Iranian authorities.
In a statement issued by his office, Trudeau said Iran had now acknowledged that the plane was brought down by its own armed forces.
“Our focus remains closure, accountability, transparency, and justice for the families and loved ones of the victims. This is a national tragedy, and all Canadians are mourning together,” the statement read.
“We will continue working with our partners around the world to ensure a complete and thorough investigation, and the Canadian government expects full cooperation from Iranian authorities.”
Victims of the disaster included 82 Iranians, 57 Canadians and 11 Ukrainians as well as nationals from Sweden, the UK, Afghanistan and Germany.