Ottawa (AFP) – A “furious” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau demanded Saturday that Iran provide Canada with “full clarity” on the shootdown near Tehran of a Ukrainian airliner that killed all 176 aboard, including dozens of Canadian citizens.
Trudeau said he made the demand in a call with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, who admitted earlier Saturday that the airliner was mistakenly shot down by Iranian missiles.
At a televised press conference, Trudeau said he told Rouhani the admission was “an important step” but “many more steps must be taken.”
“A full and complete investigation must be conducted,” he said. “We need full clarity on how such a horrific tragedy could have occurred.”
“Iran must take full responsibility,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau said he insisted to Rouhani that Canada be allowed to participate in the investigation.
Three members of a Canadian rapid deployment team were on their way to Iran, and should be on the ground within hours to support families of the Canadian victims, he said.
Additional team members will follow, he said, adding that the Iranians were working on granting visas.
By Ottawa’s count, 57 Canadian citizens, many of them dual Iranian nationals, were aboard the Ukraine International Airlines flight when it crashed January 8 shortly after takeoff from Tehran’s airport.
After days of delay and amid mounting international pressure, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards admitted the plane was mistaken for a cruise missile and shot down with a short-range missile.
Rouhani said it was an “unforgivable mistake” that resulted from “human error.”
The incident came just hours after Iran launched a wave of missiles at bases hosting American forces in Iraq in response to the killing of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in a US drone strike.
“I am, of course, outraged and furious that families across this country are grieving the loss of their loved ones, that the Iranian Canadian community is suffering so greatly, that all Canadians are shocked and appalled at the senseless loss of life,” Trudeau said.
“Yes, I’m furious that there are Canadian families that have lost their parents, their children, their spouses and it’s a huge tragedy for the entire country and not just for the Iranian community,” he said.
Trudeau praised the Iranian Canadian community as one that has “contributed greatly to Canada’s prosperity.”
“They work very hard. They’re very involved and they’ve believed in this country and the future that they’ve built here. For many of those families, that has all been struck down out of the blue by a regime that they had fled in the past, that they believed they had gotten away from.”