The bodies of 11 Ukrainians who died in a plane crash have been repatriated as Iran denies it has sent back the black boxes.
The 11 citizens died when the plane was accidentally shot down by Iran earlier this month.
All 176 on board the flight from Iran to Kiev were killed on 8 January, and most of them were Iranian or dual nationals.
Image: Relatives of the eleven Ukrainian victims arrive for a memorial ceremony
Yesterday Iran said it would be sending the black boxes from the flight to Ukraine but on Sunday this was denied.
According to the IRNA news agency, the flight recorders are being examined in Iran and no decision has been taken to send them onto Ukraine.
Hassan Rezaifar, a director in charge of accident investigations at Iran’s Civil Aviation Organisation told IRNA: “We are trying to read the black boxes here in Iran.
Image: The bodies were flown back and repatriated
“Otherwise, our options are Ukraine and France, but no decision has been taken so far to send them to another country.”
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On Sunday, the bodies of the 11 Ukrainians were brought to Kiev’s Boryspil Airport on a Ukrainian air force plane.
An honour guard carried the coffins into the airport terminal where a farewell observance will take place until the evening.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy looked on as the coffins draped in the flags were carried one by one from the plane to the waiting hearses.
Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko tweeted: “Today at Boryspil Airport the bereaved families and the whole nation have an opportunity to pay their respects to the Ukrainian crew and passengers of #PS752 who are now home.
“Deeply grateful for the messages of condolence & solidarity that we have received from around the world.”
As well as 11 Ukrainians, the victims included 57 Canadian citizens, 17 people from Sweden, four Afghans and four British citizens. Most of those killed were Iranians.
Canada has said there should be a full investigation and said the recorders should be sent to France for analysis.
Image: The bodies were flown over on a military jet
The admission by the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) that it had “unintentionally” shot down the plane provoked thousands of Iranians to take to the streets in protest.
Tehran had initially denied involvement in the disaster, which occurred less than a week after Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad.
Senior figures in the country’s government at first claimed the US was partly responsible for the crash.
Image: The motorcade took the bodies into the airport
But last Saturday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed “deep sympathy” to the victims, and said the armed forces must “pursue probable shortcomings and guilt in the painful incident”.
At the time, the country’s military was on high alert fearing possible retaliation for a series of attacks it launched on US assets in Iraq in response to the assassination of Major General Soleimani.
Image: Crew members of Ukraine International Airlines arrive for a memorial ceremony
President Donald Trump initially said no Americans were harmed by the missile attack, but on Friday, the US Defence Department admitted 11 of its personnel were injured.
Britain’s ambassador to Iran, Rob Macaire, was arrested during protests in Tehran and held in custody for more than an hour in what foreign secretary Dominic Raab called a “flagrant violation of international norms”.
Source : Sky News