Iran says it will not pay to replace Ukraine jet shot down near Tehran in January

No agreement has yet been reached on compensation for victims' families, but Iran says it won't pay for the aircraft itself.

al-monitor Relatives and colleagues of the 11 Ukrainians who died in a plane mistakenly shot down by Iran in January attend a ceremony unveiling a memorial stone at the site of the future monument at the Boryspil International airport outside Kyiv on Feb. 17, 2020.  Photo by Photo by SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images.

Aug 10, 2020

The head of Iran’s insurance regulation agency said European insurance companies, not Iranian ones, should pay compensation for the loss of a Ukraine International Airlines passenger aircraft shot down near Tehran in January.

“The Ukrainian plane is insured by European companies in Ukraine and not by Iranian companies. Therefore, the compensation should be paid by those European companies,” Gholamreza Soleimani, head of Iran’s Central Insurance Organization, said Monday, according to Iran’s state-news affiliated Young Journalists Club. Reuters first brought the quote to light.

Soleimani’s comments did not touch on compensation for the families of the 176 people who died in the crash, a matter of ongoing negotiation between Iranian officials and representatives of the countries who lost citizens in the incident.

Neither Soleimani nor a representative for the agency he oversees immediately responded to Al-Monitor’s requests for comment.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 en route from Tehran to Kyiv in January amid intense military tensions with the United States.

Iran’s government initially said pilot error caused the plane to burst into flames before later admitting that Iran’s military had shot it down, claiming it had been mistaken for a missile. Iranian officials apologized and cited “human error.”

The incident occurred some four hours after Iran launched a barrage of ballistic missiles against US troops in Iraq in retaliation for the Trump administration’s assassination of top IRGC Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said in February that his government had rejected Tehran’s offer to pay $80,000 to each family, saying it was not enough. Attorneys representing the families of the flight’s Canadian victims are seeking more than $1 billion.

Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde said in July that her government had signed a memorandum of understanding with Iranian officials to begin working toward compensation for affected families.

International investigators successfully downloaded voice recordings and other data from the flight’s black boxes in France last month. A top Ukrainian diplomat said the data revealed “illegal interference” with the passenger plane.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that talks with an Iranian delegation in Kyiv days later were “constructive” but suggested that obtaining compensation from Iran may prove difficult.

“We will achieve justice, no matter how much time and effort it costs,” Reuters quoted him as saying.

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