Ambassador: Iran has compensated Ukrainian plane victims in goodwill

January 9, 2022 - 21:27

TEHRAN — In an interview with the Ukrainian UNN news agency, Manuchehr Moradi, Tehran’s ambassador to Ukraine, has said that Iran has shown its goodwill and paid 150,000 dollars as a compensation to each family who lost a loved one in the Ukrainian plane incident.

“Undoubtedly, one of the factors that contributed to the occurrence of this bitter event was the terrorist attack against Gen. Soleimani”

The following is the text of the interview.

In a few days, there will be the anniversary of the PS752 tragedy. The question is, how is the memory of this catastrophe in Iran honored? More than 80 passengers on the plane were Iranians. Several memorial signs have been installed in Ukraine. Are there memorial signs in Iran to honor the victims of the disaster? Perhaps a day has been set for the memory of the victims of the tragedy?

First of all, let me, on the eve of the second anniversary of this tragedy - the fall of the Ukrainian plane - express my deep condolences to all the relatives of those killed in this disaster, living in Iran, Ukraine and other countries, whose citizens were the victims. Truly, it was a bitter event that happened on the days when New Year's holidays were celebrated in Ukraine. The bitterness of this disaster for the people of Iran was even greater, since the vast majority of those killed - 147 people - were Iranian citizens. Undoubtedly, this disaster is a painful event for the relatives of the victims in other countries, and each of them experienced great pain and suffering.

You asked about the measures being taken in my country in connection with this disaster. Of course, the entire top Iranian leadership expressed a sense of deep pity and sorrow over the disaster. In the first hours after the tragedy, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, the president and the chief of the Judiciary issued relevant decrees in order to investigate this issue, clarify its aspects, and also in order to alleviate the pain of the families of the victims. In addition, during the two years that have passed, in accordance with the norms of international law and the national legislation of the Islamic Republic of Iran, numerous measures have been taken in relation to the technical, legal, judicial aspects, as well as payments, the necessary reports have been prepared on the technical aspects of the disaster, in accordance with the norms of the International Civil Aviation Organization, taking into account the views of other states. The report was sent to ICAO as well as to the states involved in the incident. For two years, the competent authorities of Iran have been investigating the cases of the perpetrators and the accused, and in relation to these persons, the appropriate investigative procedures have been carefully carried out and are being carried out.

Also, the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in accordance with international standards guided by the principle of goodwill, considered the issue of payments and officially announced that each of the families of the victims, despite their citizenship, was paid 150,000 dollars. By this time, a significant number of families of the victims of the crash had completed the appropriate procedures in this case and received this amount.

Regarding memorial signs: in order to remember the victims, a memorial sign was erected at the site of the plane's crash, and recently the father of one of the perished Ukrainian citizens visited this place. In addition, in Iran, usually during religious services in mosques, the memory of the dead is honored.

In Ukraine, for two years, a memorial sign was erected in a park on the banks of the Dnieper, and last year I attended a ceremony that was held at that place on the first anniversary of this disaster.

As you know, the Ukrainian side made many statements on the technical and other aspects of the disaster. Has Iran already completed its investigation of all aspects of this disaster?

Do you mean a technical investigation?

I mean the investigation of the case and the corresponding inquiries.

In my answer to the previous question, I said that the case of a crash - the fall of an airplane - has several aspects - technical, legal, judicial, and also the issue of payments. Regarding the technical aspect, according to ICAO standards, Iran had to submit a technical report at a certain period, and this was done. With regard to legal issues and judicial investigation, the court is investigating the charges brought against the perpetrators of this disaster. Two court sessions were held, and according to the appeal of some of the plaintiffs and their lawyers, the judge demanded a reconsideration and elimination of the shortcomings in the case. The next court hearings will be announced later.

There are two questions regarding payments. The first concerns payments to the families of the victims, and the second concerns payments for the Ukraine International Airlines aircraft. Regarding the first question, I have already explained, and on the second issue, negotiations are continuing between UIA and its proxies, on the one hand, and the Iranian side, on the other.

In any case, the issue has been reviewed, and some aspects of its investigation have already been completed, and some are still pending.

Last year, Mr. Danilov (Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine) said that this disaster was connected with a terrorist attack that assassinated General Soleimani. As you know, he was quite an influential person in Iran, and his assassination had a great impact on the situation inside Iran. Do you think this disaster is related to the assassination of Soleimani?

Undoubtedly, one of the factors that contributed to the occurrence of this bitter event was the terrorist attack, as a result of which Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani was martyred. The technical reports submitted by Iran also point to existing documented evidence that, despite the coordination between the military and civilian sectors, the plane crash was caused by human error, as well as a mistake in the perception of a passenger plane as a U.S. missile. This bitter event occurred after the emergence of a military situation and threats from the United States against Iran after the terrorist attack that assassinated General Soleimani. That is, if we were not in military conditions and there were no threats from the United States, perhaps this bitter incident would not have happened.

General Soleimani was very popular among the Iranians, as he devoted his entire life to defending the fatherland and fighting terrorism in the region. The peoples of Iran and the region, taking part in millions to mourn in different cities of Iran and Iraq, demonstrated their anger at this act on the part of the United States.

General Soleimani's popularity is not limited to Iran, and he had many supporters among peoples living in geographic areas from the Indian subcontinent to the Mediterranean Sea. An important point also concerns the contradiction of the act by the United States to many norms of international law, as Ms. Agnes Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur, characterized the terrorist attack against General Soleimani as a violation of international law.

In any case, in response to your question, we can say that, of course, the terrorist attack committed by the United States, which led to the martyrdom of General Soleimani, contributed to the aggravation of the situation in the region and is one of the factors of the bitter event - the fall of the Ukrainian plane.

Let's move on to the legal and judicial aspects of the consideration of the plane crash case. As you said, we are aware of the case of the first court hearing. The question is exactly which persons are presented as suspects and who appeared in court. Were representatives of Ukraine present at the trial?

Until that time, two court sessions were held on November 21 and 28, 2021 with the participation of the persons accused in the case, the plaintiffs and their lawyers, and this process was covered by the media, and it seems to us that a significant part of these court sessions was published. According to the Military Prosecutor of Tehran, so far 103 people have filed a lawsuit with the prosecutor's office directly from the family members of the victims and their lawyers.

During the first court session, some of the relatives of those killed in the crash expressed their views on the process of the judicial investigation, as well as their comments. With this in mind, the judge applied for a re-examination of the case and returned it to the prosecutor's office.

During the second court session, which lasted less than the first session, procedural and formal issues in relation to the investigation were mainly considered, and taking into account the new demands of the relatives of the victims and their lawyers, it was decided that the case would be considered in more detail. Also, the court will be notified of the time of the next hearing.

Regarding the presence of Ukrainian citizens at these meetings, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran in its official note announced the readiness of the court leadership to ensure the presence of Ukrainian families, as well as the ambassador of Ukraine in Tehran, according to the national legislation of Iran. However, given the goodwill of the Islamic Republic of Iran and good relations between the two countries, as well as the agreement of the Iranian side, expressed during the third round of negotiations regarding the invitation of the Ambassador of Ukraine, Mr. S. Burdilyak, the distinguished Ambassador of Ukraine, was invited to the court hearings, however, unfortunately, despite the preliminary consent of the Embassy of Ukraine, the ambassador did not take part in the court session. 
Q: The Canadian Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims said 9 lower-ranking employees were on trial. I will not mention their names. Do you confirm that these 9 people were brought to trial? Has Tehran's Military Prosecutor's Office brought charges against them?

The names and surnames of some individuals were published in the virtual space, but until now these individuals have not been confirmed by officials. Therefore, I cannot comment on these names. I personally, with my whole being, understand the boundless grief and pain of the families of the victims. Perhaps I said elsewhere that I personally have experience associated with this kind of catastrophe. Many years ago, in a plane crash, I lost my wife and my only child. Therefore, I, more than other Iranian officials, share the pain and grief of the families of the victims, and I well understand those who have lost their loved ones. Nevertheless, we must admit that the conduct of the investigation of the case and the statements disseminated in the virtual space are different things.

Accusations against people and their disclosure by criminals should be based on documented evidence. Otherwise, this will mean that the investigation of the case will not proceed in a legal way. This will not bring any dividends to anyone, and no result will be achieved here. To date, according to the evidence and existing documented data, charges have been brought against several individuals and the trial against them is ongoing. The names and surnames were nevertheless communicated to the families of the victims and their lawyers, but they have not yet been officially announced.

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