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Ukraine demands punishment, compensation for airliner downed by Iran

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President Volodymyr Zelensky demanded Saturday that Iran punish those responsible for the downing of a Ukrainian airliner, pay compensation and apologise.

"We expect Iran... to bring the guilty to the courts," the Ukrainian leader wrote on Facebook, calling also for the "payment of compensation" and the return of remains.

Tehran admitted Saturday that it accidentally downed the Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) plane, killing all 176 people on board on Wednesday, shortly after launching missiles at bases hosting US forces in Iraq.

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"We hope the inquiry will be pursued without deliberate delay and without obstruction," Zelensky added

He urged "total access" to the full inquiry for 45 Ukrainian experts, and in a tweet also sought an "official apology".

This handout picture taken and released by the Ukrainian presidential press service shows Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky meeting with relatives of the crew members of the Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 from Tehran to Kiev that crashed on January 8 shortly after take-off, in Kiev on January 9, 2020. - Ukraine asked international partners to provide any evidence they may have to help investigators probing a Ukrainian passenger plane that crashed in Iran, as US media reported it was mistakenly shot down by a missile. (Photo by HO / UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE / AFP)


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said earlier Saturday that Tehran "deeply regrets this disastrous mistake".

UIA chief Yevhenii Dykhne also posted on Facebook, saying: "We never had any doubt that our crew and our plane could be the cause of this terrible catastrophe. They were the best."

Ukraine said Friday its experts dispatched to Iran had been granted access to the flight's black boxes, debris from the plane, the crash site and recordings of conversations between the pilot and the airport control tower.

Iran's official IRNA news agency published a statement from the military saying the Boeing 737 was mistaken for a "hostile plane" at a time when threats were at the highest level.

Tehran has invited the United States, Ukraine, Canada, and others to join the crash investigation.

The majority of passengers on UIA Flight PS752 from Tehran to Kiev were Iranian-Canadian dual nationals but also included Ukrainians, Afghans, Britons, and Swedes

EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content / Rescue teams recover a body after a Ukrainian plane carrying 176 passengers crashed near Imam Khomeini airport in the Iranian capital Tehran early in the morning on January 8, 2020, killing everyone on board. - The Boeing 737 had left Tehran's international airport bound for Kiev, semi-official news agency ISNA said, adding that 10 ambulances were sent to the crash site. (Photo by - / AFP)


Many in Kiev have compared the crash to the 2014 downing of Malaysian Airlines MH17 killing 298 people over eastern Ukraine where pro-Russian separatists are fighting government forces.

Moscow has denied the findings of international investigators that a Russian BUK misile hit the Malaysian flight.

"Iran has shown itself more civilised than Russia," pro-western Ukraine MP Volodymyr Ariev wrote on Facebook.

"Tehran has admitted its guilt in three days while Russia continues to try to get out of it."

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