Monday 20 January 2020 11:02 am

Ukraine to press Iran for return of crashed plane’s black boxes

Ukraine will press Iran to hand over the black boxes from the Ukranian airliner that crashed in the country earlier this month, foreign minister Vadym Prystaiko said.

Prystaiko told reporters he would tell Iranian urban development minister Mohammad Eslami, who is visiting Ukraine, that returning the black boxes would show Iran wanted an unbiased investigation into the crash.

“His main task is to apologise and acknowledge what happened. We hope that we can go a little further than just political discussions and discuss practical problems. Among them in particular is the return of the black boxes,” Prystaiko said.

Iran had said yesterday it was trying to analyse the blackboxes from the plane shot down by its military on 8 January, denying an earlier report it would hand them over to Ukraine. 

“At first they stated that they were handing them over, then the same person stated that they were not handing them over. This created some misunderstanding in Ukraine and we were starting to be asked: are they being handed over or not?,” said Prystaiko. 

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All 176 on board the plane died in the crash. Many of those who died were Iranians with dual citizenship, but Iran does not recognise dual nationality, and said today it would treat victims with dual citizenship as Iranian nationals.

Canada, which had 57 citizens on board the flight, said there were still no firm plans for data from the recorders to be downloaded. It has joined other countries in calling for the black boxes to be sent abroad for analysis. 

The downing of the plane has increased international pressure on Iran as the country grapples with an ongoing dispute with the US over its nuclear programme, with tensions flaring earlier this month. 

The Iranian military has admitted to accidentally shooting down Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 following tit-for-tat strikes by the US and Iran.

Iranian authorities did not immediately admit responsibility for the crash, prompting days of protests on the streets of Iran.