Canada says Iran should not lead investigation on downed Ukrainian plane

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An independent Canadian report published Tuesday into a Kiev-bound passenger plane shot down by Iran in January said Tehran should not be allowed to investigate itself and called for changes to civil aviation rules.

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“The party responsible for the situation is investigating itself, largely in secret. That does not inspire confidence or trust,” said the report, written by one of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's former ministers, Ralph Goodale, the government's special counsel into the tragedy.

Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 crashed shortly after taking off from the Iranian capital's main airport on January 8, killing all 176 people on board, 85 of whom were Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

The Islamic republic admitted days later that its forces accidentally shot down the plane after firing two missiles amid heightened US-Iran tensions.

“Many of the key details of this horrific event remain unknown,” the report said, noting in particular why Iranian airspace had remained open the night of the tragedy.

“Iran bears responsibility for that because -- at least thus far -- it has not conducted its investigations (safety, criminal or otherwise) in a truly independent, objective and transparent manner,” the report continued.

In early November, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) called on Iran to “expedite the accident investigation” and publish its final findings on the crash.
Canada had said in early October that it would set up its own team of investigators to collect and analyze available information on the crash.

Goodale called for a review of current international standards that entrust the investigation of an aviation crash to the country where the accident occurred.

“In the case of a military shoot-down, that means the very government involved in causing the disaster (Iran in this case) is in complete control of the safety investigation, obvious conflicts of interest notwithstanding, with few safeguards to ensure independence, impartiality or legitimacy,” the report said.

“This undermines the investigation's credibility and enables a sense of impunity in avoiding essential questions.”

Trudeau welcomed the report and called on Iran to “answer comprehensively, with supporting evidence” the questions the document raises.

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