In January 2020, the Revolutionary Guards shot down a Ukrainian passenger flight close to Tehran. The aftermath has been devastating for the families who lost their lives, but also to Iran’s credibility and influence on the world stage. Of the six countries that lost citizens in the disaster, Canada and Ukraine have been most vocal in demanding justice for the families of the victims.
Below is a timeline of the most defining events, from the crash on January 8 to the newly-formed coalition between Canada, Sweden, the UK, Ukraine and Afghanistan to seek better compensation for the families of the victims.
PS752: A Timeline
Ukrainian International Airlines flight 752 departed from the runway on Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran. The flight carried 167 passengers and nine crew members heading for Boryspil Airport, one of the major airports close to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.
The plane climbs steadily, and when it reaches an altitude just under 3000 feet, the flight data abruptly stops transmitting.
The aircraft crashes outside the village of Khalajabad just 15 kilometers northwest of the airport. Everyone onboard the flight was killed: 82 Iranian citizens, 63 Canadian citizens, 11 Ukrainian citizens, 10 Swedish citizens, seven Afghan citizens, three British citizens and three German citizens died in the crash.
Iranian authorities quickly claim that the crash was caused by a fire starting in the plane’s engine. Ukraine sends a team of investigators to Iran but accepted the explanation and Iran’s insistence it was a mechanical error.
The airline, Ukrainian International Airlines, categorically denies that the crash could be caused by pilot error, as the captain was specifically trained for flying to and from Tehran, which has a complicated airport because of the surrounding landscape.
US Intelligence officials state they believe the aircraft had been shot down by a missile, and based this theory on satellite imagery and radar data. Ukrainian authorities back the theory.
The theory is also backed up by Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, who say Canadian intelligence officers and UK officials from the intelligence sector held similar views.
The Iranian authorities deny it.
Iranian authorities admit that the Revolutionary Guards shot down the plane by accident. Angry protests broke out in Tehran.
Footage shows that two missiles fired 30 seconds apart hit the aircraft. This was confirmed by the New York Times.
Several arrests are made by the Iranian police, mostly in connection with the publication of information about the downing of the flight, not about the plane crash itself, or who was responsible for it.
Iran contacts France and the United States for help decrypting the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder (also known as the two black boxes).
Ukrainian TV-channel 1+1 airs a recording between an Iranian pilot and an Iranian air traffic controller. The pilot allegedly told the controller that he had seen a missile flash in the sky. Following this, the Ukrainian president Volodimir Zelensky stated that Iran had known this all along.
Zelensky also states that the US$80,000 compensation that Iran had offered to the victims’ families was an insufficient amount.
Canada asks Iran for the two black boxes to be sent to France. Iranian authorities rejected the request.
Iran resumes cooperation with Ukraine again to determine where the black boxes should be sent.
Iran agrees to send the black boxes to Ukraine, but it was delayed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Ukraine and Canada grew impatient in the following days.
The families of the victims in Canada form an association seeking 1.1 billion $US compensation from Iran.
An interview with the head of the Ukrainian team of investigators lashes out at the Iranian authorities, stating there was currently no communication between them and their Iranian counterparts.
The interview, which is published on Glavkom, also contains the first public claims about panic spreading aboard the flight in the nearly four minutes it took for the plane to crash after the missiles had hit it.
Iranian authorities announce they will send the black boxes to the Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety in France.
This has yet to be done.
A memorandum of understanding is signed by Canada, the United Kingdom, Afghanistan, Sweden and Ukraine. The memorandum designates Ukraine as the leading negotiator in discussions about the monetary compensation that Iran offered the families of the victims.