A woman pauses at a makeshift memorial prior to a ceremony in Montreal, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, to remember those who lost their lives in Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 which was shot down shortly after takeoff in Iran on January 8, 2020. The investigation into Iran’s downing of a commercial jetliner that killed dozens of Canadians in January has hit a snag due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Canada asks Iran to delay download of Flight 752 black boxes due to COVID-19

Flight 752 was shot down shortly after takeoff from Tehran in January

Canadian authorities are blaming travel restrictions related to COVID-19 for a request that Iran hold off on downloading the flight recorders from a commercial jetliner shot down in January.

The Iranian military shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 on Jan. 8. All 176 people on board were killed, including 55 Canadians and 30 permanent residents.

Canada and other countries who lost citizens in the incident, including Britain, Sweden, Ukraine and Afghanistan, had been pressuring Iran for months to hand over the flight recorders from the doomed flight so their data could be downloaded and analyzed.

It is hoped the information from the so-called black boxes will provide a clearer picture of what actually happened and help ensure those Iranian officials responsible are held to account.

Yet while Iran’s civil aviation organization reached out to affected countries last week to assess when they could send representatives to participate in the process, the head of the Transportation Safety Board of Canada says it simply isn’t possible now because of COVID-19.

“Everyone is anxious for the download and analysis of the recorders to proceed; this should have happened without delay, shortly after the accident,” TSB chair Kathy Fox said in a statement.

“However, with COVID-19 and the multiple travel restrictions, travelling to attend the download of the flight recorders is currently not possible — and this, for all countries concerned.”

As a result, she said, Canada and the other countries have asked Iran to postpone downloading and analyzing the flight-recorder data until the restrictions are lifted.

“We still expect Iran will carry through with its commitment to have the recorders downloaded and, once conditions improve, we will send our experts to attend the download, wherever this takes place,” Fox said.

The black boxes have become pivotal to the Iranian-led flight-safety investigation and Ukrainian-led criminal investigation into the downing of Flight 752, which was shot down shortly after takeoff from Tehran on the same night Iran fired a series of missiles at neighbouring Iraq.

Iran promised in early March to surrender the flight recorders within two weeks, but missed that deadline.

While acknowledging the difficulties posed by COVID-19, Toronto dentist Hamed Esmaeilion, whose wife Parisa and nine-year-old daughter Reera were on the flight, said the international community needs to keep the pressure on Iran to hand over the flight recorders.

“The best thing to do is to take the black boxes out of Iran to a third country like France,” he told The Canadian Press.

“We don’t want to risk anybody’s life right now and Canada can send the experts after they are sure nobody is at risk. This is a game Iran plays and I’m sure they are trying to put the ball in other countries’ court to buy some time.”

The federal government’s new adviser on Flight 752, former Liberal cabinet minister Ralph Goodale, said last month that Iran could not use COVID-19 as an “excuse” for not handing over the black boxes — a position echoed by Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne.

Champagne’s spokesman Adam Austen on Sunday did not respond directly to questions about the request that Iran postpone downloading the flight recorders and instead indicated the government’s past statements that they should be processed immediately.

“We continue to call on Iran to allow for the black boxes to be downloaded and analyzed in a facility with the capability to do so without delay,” Austen said in an email.

“Canada will continue to work with the other members of the international coordination group to ensure Iran lives up to its international obligations as we pursue justice for the victims of this horrific tragedy.”

READ MORE: Husband of Iran plane crash victim seeks answers, justice from investigation

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusFlight 752 crash in Iran

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

North Island Elementary students published in short story collection

Five Fort Rupert Elementary students are now bonafide authors

MP asks Minister of Transport for review of safe crew levels on new ferries

The new ferries were approved to run with smaller crew sizes, raising safety concerns

$8,179,919 in grant funding announced for North Island communities

This local funding is part of over $228 million in grants going to B.C. communities.

Port Hardy earns Bear Smart certification

Community committed to living safely alongside bears

Funding police would be ‘most expensive single budget item we would have’ says Port Hardy councillor

‘we’re not panicking — I can’t see our population numbers jumping up that high that quick’

VIDEO: Musqueam Chief captures captivating footage of bald eagle catching meal

‘This is why we have chosen to live here since time immemorial,’ Chief Wayne Sparrow’s nephew says

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Most Read