Canadian authorities have criticised the final report released by Iran’s civil aviation body into the Ukranian passenger plane that was accidentally shot down over Tehran on 8 January 2020.
Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 was shot down by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards shortly after take-off over Tehran, in an incident labelled by Iranian authorities as a “disastrous mistake” amid heightened tensions between Iran and the US.
All 176 people onboard the aircraft were ultimately killed in the incident.
The final report into the incident, released on Thursday, blamed a misaligned radar, as well as the personal error of an air defence operator, as the cause of the fatal event.
The Iranian final investigation report said: “The plane was identified as a hostile target due to a mistake by the air defence operator … near Tehran and two missiles were fired at it.”
“The flight’s operation did not have a role in creating the error by the air defence battery,” it added.
Iran previously stated in its preliminary report into the incident, issued in June last year, that the incident was caused by a misalignment of a battery’s radar and a lack of communication between the air defence operator and his commanders.
“Following a tactical relocation, the relevant ADU (air defence unit) failed to adjust the system direction due to human error, causing the operator to observe the target flying west from IKA (airport) as a target approaching Tehran from the southwest at a relatively low altitude,” the final report said.
“Without receiving a go-ahead or response from the command centre, he (operator) came to identify the target as a hostile one and fired missile(s) at the aircraft against the procedure planned.”
However Canada, which has taken a keen interest in the investigation due to many victims of the crash being Canadian, stated that Iran’s final investigation report “makes no attempt to answer the critical questions about what truly happened”, and that the report “appears to be incomplete”.
Ralph Goodale, an adviser to the Canadian prime minister, added that “there will be no solace for the families because the whole story, the complete story with the hard evidence to back it up is not being provided”.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also critiqued the final investigation report.
“What we saw in the published report today is nothing more than a cynical attempt to hide the true reasons for the downing of our plane,” he said.
Ukraine has long suspected the crash was intentional, and stated the report was merely an attempt by the Islamic Republic authorities to cover up this fact.
Minister Kuleba also said Iran’s investigation did not follow international practice, ignored evidence supplied by Ukraine and drew selective conclusions.
Ukraine and an independent United Nations investigator previously raised questions about whether Iran’s downing of the airliner was intentional rather than accidental, and the UN last month said that Iran’s explanation for the incident contained inconsistencies.
Ukrainian prosecutors have reportedly launched their own independent investigation into the crash. Canada is also nearing the end of its own investigation.