UNITED NATIONS On Tuesday, a UN official accused Iran of lying in its clarification of how last year it shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet near Tehran at a time of intense tension with the United States.
Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 crashed shortly after departing from the Iranian capital Tehran on January 8, 2020, killing all 176 people on board, including 55 Canadians.
Three days later, the Islamic Republic admitted that its forces erroneously shot down the Kiev-bound Boeing 737-800 plane after shooting two missiles.
Agnes Callamard, UN Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial killings, announced the findings of the tragedy’s investigation and said the Iranian theory of what went wrong is full of contradictions.
“The most troubling thing is that the explanations by the Iranian authorities about the mistake or mistakes that were made do not add up,” she told reporters.
She said the Iranian version of events is “full of contradictions. They are contradicted by the facts, by the technical assessments of many experts.”
“Why does Iran lie? Because there is no other term to use,” said Callamard.
She cited what she said were Iranian statements about the “visual approach” of the aircraft and “instructions on the radar systems.”
Iran has refused to understand how its military could make such a huge mistake as shooting down a passenger plane, Callamard said.
Callamard said it is possible to “kill by mistake” under international law and that jurisprudence decides if the mistake was made in good faith.
“My conclusion is that on the basis of international law, error is not a defense for Iran,” said Callamard.
She said the questions she posed as part of her inquiry had not been answered by Iran.
The UN Security Council is associated with UN experts like her, but this body is not bound by its conclusions.
At the time of the downing of the Ukrainian jetliner, tensions between Iran and the US were soaring.
After Tehran fired missiles at a military base in Iraq which was used by US troops, Iranian air defenses were on high alert for a US counter-attack.
These missiles were fired in response to the killing of General Qassem Soleimani, who headed Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ foreign operations arm, in a U.S. drone attack near Baghdad’s international airport.