Ukraine Plane-Crash Father Demands Trials, Calls Iran Foreign Minister ‘Murderer’
The father of one of the victims of Ukrainian Airlines flight PS752, downed by Iranian missiles on January 8, urged the authorities on Monday to put the responsible military commander and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on trial. The father of Maryam Malek, one of the 176 victims, made the call in a passionate and outspoken speech at the Military Prosecutor’s Office in Tehran.
News of the victims’ families’ protest are off-limits to the media in Iran but a short video clip published on social media shows Malek (his given name was not mentioned) addressing officials at a hall inside the building in the presence of other officials, and of family-members of other victims who rallied in front of the Military Prosecutor’s Office to demand justice.
In his address, Malek said that Brigadier-General Amir-Ali Hajizadeh, Commander of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Aerospace Force, the IRGC Commander-in-Chief Brigadier-General Hossein Salami, the Head of the Civil Aviation Organization and all others, “including the murderer who is [Iran’s] Foreign Minister,” should be removed from their positions.
The scene of the Ukrainian International Airlines plane crash. January 8, 2020
“Will the Aerospace Commander whose hands are soaked in the blood of our children allow proper investigation?” Malek said. He asked why the commander had not been removed from his position despite his responsibility for downing the plane: “A knife will not cut its own handle.”
The Ukrainian flight was targeted by two missiles fired by a IRGC defense battery on January 8, 2020, only minutes after taking off from Tehran airport hours after Iran launched ballistic missiles at US bases in Iraq in retaliation for the US killing Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad five days earlier. Despite the tense military situation, Iranian authorities did not close the airspace and allowed civilian planes to take off.
All 176 onboard died in the incident. Iranian authorities denied a missile attack on the plane for more than two days but eventually accepted responsibility with “human error” given as the cause of the disaster. Hajizadeh personally took “all responsibility.”
Protesting the exclusion of the victims’ families from the investigations, Malek said: “I’m ready to be arrested, to be executed here. I don’t want to live after [the death of] my child.” He insisted that the authorities’ investigation was “mere theater play to us.”
Malek also demanded the authorities reveal why the personal effects of the crash victims had been “plundered” and alleged their mobiles had been “smashed” by the police. The families of victims have recently complained of IRGC harassment and intimidation, presumably to silence them ahead of the crash anniversary.
Ukraine has been demanding transparency from Iran and a full report on the incident, but repeated rounds of negotiations have failed and Iran has not issued a report, or held top officials responsible for the tragedy.