FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020 file photo debris at the scene where a Ukrainian plane crashed in Shahedshahr southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran. Two U.S. officials said Thursday that it was “highly likely” that an Iranian anti-aircraft missile downed a Ukrainian jetliner late Tuesday, killing all 176 people on board. President Donald Trump is suggesting he believes Iran was responsible. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

RCMP helping Ukrainian investigation into Iran’s downing of Flight PS752

The crash outside Tehran killed all 176 passengers and crew, including 55 Canadians

The RCMP is assisting Ukrainian authorities in a criminal investigation of the downing of Flight PS752, Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne says.

The Ukraine International Airlines plane was shot down by the Iranian military in January. The crash outside Tehran killed all 176 passengers and crew, including 55 Canadians.

After initially denying any responsibility, Iranian authorities arrested several people and promised to hold them to account. Iran says the plane was misidentified by an air-defence battery shortly after Iran itself launched missiles at western forces in neighbouring Iraq.

Ukraine nonetheless launched its own criminal investigation and speaking in the Ukrainian city of Lviv this morning during a tour of eastern Europe, Champagne said the RCMP has sent an officer to help Ukrainian police to ensure justice for the victims.

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“We always said from the beginning that we wanted to bring closure, accountability, transparency and justice and this is the justice part of it, where we wanted to do everything we can to support because obviously this was a Ukrainian airline flight,” he said.

“So we’re supporting Ukraine in their criminal investigation of those that would be responsible.”

Champagne also said he pressed Ukraine’s president and foreign affairs minister for the airline to quickly compensate families of those Canadians who were killed.

“What I’ve been pushing for is potential advance payment to the families and we’re going to keep following up on that because, as you know under the Montreal and Warsaw conventions (on international air travel), this is a statutory payment that needs to be done by the airlines,” he said.

Champagne was expected to meet with the head of the carrier, but the minister says a scheduling conflict scuttled those plans.

The Canadian Press

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