Flight PS752 tragedy: Passengers on doomed plane used as 'human shield', Iran tampered with electronic devices, new report says

·4-min read
KIEV, UKRAINE - 2021/01/08: Relatives and colleagues seen during the ceremony at the site of the future monument. In memory of the victims of the flight PS752 on the first anniversary of the plane crash. Boeing 737-800 passenger plane flight PS752 of Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) crashed near the International Airport of Imam Khomeini in Tehran, Iran, shortly after taking off on January 8, 2020. All 176 people on board the airliner died. Among them 11 Ukrainians - two passengers and nine crew members. Passengers of the airliner were citizens of Iran, Canada, Sweden, Afghanistan, Germany, and Great Britain. (Photo by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

A newly released report from the Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims claims the Iranian government deliberately did not close the airspace to civilian flights, using passenger flights to "shield against possible American attacks."

At the highest levels of military alertness, the government of Iran used passenger flights as human shield against possible American attacks, by deliberately not closing the airspace to civilian flights.Report by Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims

On Jan. 8, 2020, 176 people on board the Ukrainian Airlines flight, including 55 Canadians and 30 permanent residents, were killed when the plane was shot down by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard after taking off from the Tehran airport.

KIEV, UKRAINE - 2021/01/08: Portraits of dead passengers and pilots displayed on a large screen during the ceremony at the site of the future monument.
In memory of the victims of the flight PS752 on the first anniversary of the plane crash. Boeing 737-800 passenger plane flight PS752 of Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) crashed near the International Airport of Imam Khomeini in Tehran, Iran, shortly after taking off on January 8, 2020. All 176 people on board the airliner died.  Among them 11 Ukrainians - two passengers and nine crew members. Passengers of the airliner were citizens of Iran, Canada, Sweden, Afghanistan, Germany, and Great Britain. (Photo by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - 2021/01/08: Portraits of dead passengers and pilots displayed on a large screen during the ceremony at the site of the future monument. In memory of the victims of the flight PS752 on the first anniversary of the plane crash. Boeing 737-800 passenger plane flight PS752 of Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) crashed near the International Airport of Imam Khomeini in Tehran, Iran, shortly after taking off on January 8, 2020. All 176 people on board the airliner died. Among them 11 Ukrainians - two passengers and nine crew members. Passengers of the airliner were citizens of Iran, Canada, Sweden, Afghanistan, Germany, and Great Britain. (Photo by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Claims of tampering with electronic devices

The new report claims that electronics were deliberately tampered with, including missing memory cards.

"The bent electronics have raised questions and concerns among several families," the report states. "One likely explanation is that these electronics may have been bulldozed over in an attempt to destroy any potential evidence that victims recorded in the last minutes of their lives."

"Bulldozing the crash site and not delivering many electronic devices of passengers and flight crew clearly demonstrate the government of Iran’s attempts to systematically conceal the downing of flight PS752."

Examination of four devices showed damages that were "inconsistent with damages caused by a sudden and hard impact."

"The fact that these memory/data components are missing is not consistent with damage caused by a sudden and hard impact," the findings from former Toronto police homicide detective, Mark Mendelson, whose consulting firm examined electronic devices, reads.

"Moreover, the fact that screws were removed and covers pried open strongly suggests that concerted efforts were made to extract these components, rendering a review of data impossible."

The report goes on to claim that DNA testing on some victims' bodies did not align with the stated identification by Iranian authorities.

"This neglectfulness on the part of the government of Iran has had serious psychological consequences for families, some of whom did not receive the whole bodies of their loved ones and were given the remains of other victims instead," the report reads.

The report highlights that Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corp operator of the missile system that shot down the plane had "vast experience" with these systems and it is "difficult to imagine that the operator could not distinguish between an alleged cruise missile and PS752."

It also states that it is "highly unlikely" that the missile system operator "could not distinguish the aircraft from a cruise missile, as claimed by Iran."

"It is implausible that the missile system operator simply confused a much larger civilian aircraft, moving in more gradual patterns and at a slower speed, for a cruise missile," the report reads.

'We need urgent actionable support'

The Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims has been calling for domestic and international investigations, and continues to urge the Canadian government to facilitate a clarification of what happened on Jan. 8, 2020 with the necessary legal and political actions.

“The findings of our report reinforce why we need urgent actionable support and help from governments to facilitate the clarification and truth about what happened that led to the downing of Flight PS752,” a statement from Hamed Esmaeilion, president and spokesperson of the association, reads.

“It’s clear that this tragedy cannot be referred to as just a horrific combination of coincidences. Among logistical findings, the systematic concealment of the root cause of the crash, the destruction of evidence at the crash site, and Iran's vague and misleading reports, all indicate that the downing of Flight PS752 was deliberate.”

In collaboration with the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights (RWCHR), a joint submission has been filed with the UN to appoint an impartial fact-finding mission into the downing of Flight PS752.

“As we approach the two-year anniversary of the downing of Flight PS752, Iran continues to conceal evidence and do everything in their power to silence the victims and shield officials from accountability,” a statement from Honourable Irwin Cotler, RWCHR Chair and former Justice Minister of Canada.

“The report’s comprehensive body of evidence provides the necessary grounds to open domestic and international criminal investigations to bring the high-level perpetrators to justice.”

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