Ukrainian plane tragedy unacceptable, Iran urged to punish culprits

By GT staff reporters Source:Global Times Published: 2020/1/11 18:22:22 Last Updated: 2020/1/12 9:59:29

A rescuer works at the air crash site of a Boeing 737 Ukrainian passenger plane in Parand district, southern Tehran, Iran, on Jan. 8, 2020. Photo: Xinhua

No reason is acceptable for the Ukrainian plane tragedy, which caused the loss of 176 lives; Iran must take responsibility and punish those accountable for downing the Ukrainian jetliner, experts said, after Iran admitted to accidentally shooting down the jetliner because of a terrible "human error" on Saturday.

Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the aerospace commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), said Saturday that the IRGC accepts responsibility for the crash of Ukrainian plane over Iran's airspace.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tweeted earlier on Saturday that “Armed Forces' internal investigation has concluded regrettably that missiles fired due to human error caused the horrific crash of the Ukrainian plane that killed 176 innocent people.”

"The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake," Rouhani wrote. "Investigations continue to identify & prosecute this great tragedy & unforgivable mistake."

Iran pledged to hand over those responsible for the plane tragedy to the country's military court. 

Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Saturday that the reason behind this tragedy may be because the Iranian military's readiness is very much strained facing a possible war, and the discipline there was lax. "This kind of accidental attack is unthinkable."

Song said that Iran should send relevant officers to the military court and Iran should also explain to the international community what had exactly caused the air tragedy.

Rescuers work at the air crash site of a Boeing 737 Ukrainian passenger plane in Parand district, southern Tehran, Iran, on Jan. 8, 2020. Photo: Xinhua

Iranian Armed Forces Staff assures the nation it will make re-occurrence of such incidents impossible by fundamentally modifying operational processes of the Armed Forces and that it will hand over the culprits to the military court, Tehran-based Mehr News Agency reported.  

"Iran ought to shoulder the responsibility for this tragic accident. However, several underlying factors leading to the tumultuous situation in the Middle East are also to blame," Niu Xinchun, a research fellow at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing, told the Global Times on Saturday. 

It's wrong to assume Iran would shoot down the plane for political reasons, Niu noted.

According to the investigation report released by the Iran Armed Forces on Saturday, the mistake happened after threats "made by the American President (Donald Trump) and its military commanders to attack 52 targets on the soil of the Islamic Republic in the case of Iran's retaliation. Due to the unprecedented movements in the region's airspace, Iranian Armed Forces were thrust to an utmost level of readiness and alert."

Hours after the retaliatory Iran missile strikes against US military bases in Iraq, "aircraft presence of US terrorist forces" increased near Iranian borders and some targets were seen on radars, which triggered the beefing of air defense, said the report. 

"In such sensitive and critical situations, flight No 752 of Ukraine International Airlines departed from Imam Khomeini Airport and while changing direction, it completely resembled a hostile target approaching a sensitive center of IRGC." As a result, the plane was wrongly targeted and shot down, it said. 

Wang Ya'nan, the chief editor of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times on Saturday that Iran will be held accountable and compensation for the tragedy will be sought as this is an error committed by Iran. 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Photo: Xinhua

Usually, the airline should be held responsible first, as it is in direct contact with the passengers, and the airline will then investigate the actual reason behind the incident and find the person or organization who is ultimately responsible for the incident, Wang said. 

However, as Iran has now accepted its ultimate responsibility, so the relatives of the passengers may demand compensation directly from Iran, Wang said, noting the compensation must be huge.  

"Compensation of $145, 000 for each person, an amount set by the International Civil Aviation Organization, is sought under normal circumstances. In this particular case, the amount should be higher,” Wang said.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Saturday his government is demanding to fix accountability on those responsible for the airline crash victims, vowing to continue working with its partners to ensure a complete and thorough investigation, according to media reports.

Those on board included 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three German residents, and three British nationals. 

"This morning brings the truth. Ukraine insists on a full admission of guilt. We expect Iran to bring those responsible to justice, return the bodies, pay compensation and issue an official apology. The investigation must be full, open & continue without delays or obstacles," Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in twitter on Saturday.

Peace and stability in the Gulf region and the Middle East must be ensured as it serves the interests of all countries and is of vital importance to the whole world, said Geng Shuang, spokesperson of China's Foreign Ministry, during a routine press conference on Thursday.

China called on all sides to judge issues on their own merits, stick to political settlement, take concrete actions to cool off tensions, and make joint efforts to safeguard peace and stability in the Gulf region, Geng said. 

Posted in: MID-EAST

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