Downed Ukraine plane victims' families reject Iran's black box report

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An association representing the relatives of the victims of a Ukrainian passenger plane downed by the Iranian military in January has rejected Tehran’s report on the contents of the plane’s black boxes, describing it as a display of “obscurantism.”

Iran on Sunday released its first official report on the contents of the cockpit voice and data recordings, which were sent to France for reading in July.

The plane was hit with two missiles fired 25 seconds apart, the head of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization Touraj Dehghani-Zanganeh said, adding that the passengers and crew were still alive 19 seconds after the first missile hit the plane.

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The report is “yet another ridiculous display of deceit and obscurantism,” the association of the victims’ families said in a statement on Monday.

The statement said the victims’ families will not accept any report by Iran on the incident and called for impartial international organizations to lead the investigation.

“We have stated from the beginning that we seek to bring to justice the perpetrators of this crime who kept the Iranian air space open in the morning of January 8, those who ordered the shooting down of a civilian passenger airplane, and those who destroyed all evidence at the crash site,” the statement said.

Iran’s report failed to address queries that insinuate the shootdown was a deliberate attack, the statement added.

“This shameful display was devoid of any answers to concerns and questions that suggest the missile strike may have been intentional.”

Iranian-Canadian human rights and political activist Ardeshir Zarezadeh said the report was not complete and selective, adding that "it is not what the families expected."

"Iran has the obligation to publish a full completed report, but they fail to do that. Now, it's on the international coordination group consisting of Ukraine, Canada, Sweden, the UK, and Afghanistan, to react to this report and put pressure on Iranian regime for a full completed report," Zarezadeh told Al Arabiya English.

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Some of the victims’ relatives believe it is possible the plane was deliberately shot down. They have demanded that Iran clarify why the flight was delayed by 57 minutes, why a second missile was fired when the pilots were trying to navigate the hit plane back to the airport, and why Iran’s airspace was kept open the day the country’s military was carrying out missile attacks against targets in a neighbouring country.

The head of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization did not address any of these queries in his press conference.

“We have been subjected to eight months of an organized disinformation and psychological war campaign by the Iranian government. We can no longer bear their petty statements, baseless claims and threats,” the statement said.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) shot down the Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 on January 8, killing all 176 onboard. The incident happened the same night Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on military bases in Iraq hosting US troops in response to the American drone strike that killed IRGC commander Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on January 3.

Iran admitted to downing the plane after days of denying responsibility and insisting the plane crashed due to a “technical failure.”