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                        THURSDAY, JANUARY 23, 2020
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Nations mull legal action against Iran
Journal Staff Report

KYIV, Jan 13 - Five countries whose citizens were killed when an airliner was shot down by Iran last week will meet in London on Thursday to discuss possible legal action, Ukraine’s foreign minister told Reuters.

Speaking on the sidelines of an official visit to Singapore on Monday, Vadym Prystaiko said the five nations would also discuss compensation and the investigation into the incident.

All 176 people on board the Ukraine International Airlines flight were killed in the crash on Wednesday, minutes after the plane took off from Tehran airport.

In Kyiv, Ukraine’s top security official said a senior Iranian investigator would visit the Ukrainian capital in the coming days to determine whether a Ukrainian laboratory is suitable to decode the plane’s black box flight recorders.

Prystaiko said suggestions from Iran that the plane was shot down as it flew near a sensitive military base during a time of heightened tensions were “nonsense”.

“We have created this group of foreign ministers from the grieving nations. On Jan 16, we will meet in person in London to discuss the ways, including legal, how we are following this up, how we are prosecuting them (Iran),” Prystaiko said.

He said the five nations also included Canada - which had at least 57 passport holders aboard the doomed flight - Sweden, Afghanistan and a fifth country which he did not name. Canada has previously said these four countries and Britain had established a coordination group to support victims’ families.

Many on board were Iranians with dual citizenship.

After days of denials, Iran said on Saturday its military had shot down the plane in a “disastrous mistake”.

Tehran said its air defenses were fired in error while on alert after Iranian missile strikes on U.S. targets in Iraq, and that the airliner was mistaken for a “hostile target” after it turned toward a sensitive military base of the elite Revolutionary Guards near Tehran.

“This is nonsense because our plane was recorded and confirmed - was going within the international route which was given by the dispatchers...Nothing was extraordinary,” Prystaiko said, adding that investigators said the pilot’s last words were “everything is ok on board and I am switching to auto pilot.”

“I have seen this information on media that our plane changed the route...Yes, because it was hit by rocket! It was already dying.”

Prystaiko said all involved had to be held to account and that Ukrainian investigators should be central to the investigation.

“We have to dig out who gave the order, who pushed the button. Everything...all these people should be punished,” he said. (rt/ez)




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