April 15, 2020
Radio Farda has learned that Iran is pushing Ukraine to sign a memorandum of understanding obliging Ukraine and the families of victims of flight 725, shot down over Tehran, to waive their right to pursue the matter any further through courts.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard fired two missiles at Ukraine’s flight 725 on January 8 in the wake of Iran’s missile attacks on Iraqi military bases hosting U.S forces. Iranian authorities took responsibility for downing the flight and killing 176 passengers and crew members onboard the plane after three days of denials and later claiming that ‘human error” was responsible for shooting the plane.
Radio Farda has learned that Iran has sent the draft of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry according to which Ukraine and the families of the victims are to accept “human error” as the cause of the crash. The said document also stipulates that Ukraine and the families of the victims should not pursue criminal and judicial action against Iran in return for the payment of compensation by Iran and releasing the plane’s flight recorder’s contents after they are analyzed.
To clarify issues related to a possible MoU proposed by Iran Radio Farda Guck, an international aviation law expert to comment on MoU possible text. He pointed out that Iran may be seeking to create disunity among the countries whose nationals were killed in the crash by seeking to reach such a separate agreement with Ukraine.
Guck also said the fact that Iranian authorities claim human error caused the crash of the Ukrainian airliner does not mean that Iran has taken responsibility for the tragedy. “The question remains whether Iran is prepared to be accountable, explain why the airspace was not closed and the reasons for the human error, compensate it or not,” he said and added that the MoU draft submitted to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry by Iran does not make any mention of Iran’s accountability and sets few conditions to start compensation negotiations..
According to Guck, the question of whether Iran is prepared to compensate the families of the victims and the aviation company that owned the airliner will remain unanswered if Ukraine accepts Iran’s position as expressed in the draft document. In other words, Guck says, Iran considers the investigation into the “human error” that possibly caused the crash and all respective court procedures an internal matter to be investigated and prosecuted solely by Iranian authorities.
“First of all, the reason for the crash must not be attributed to human error before the conclusion of an independent and proper investigation. Secondly, the government of Ukraine cannot be made responsible for forcing the families of the victims to forego their right of seeking an independent investigation as a precondition for payment of compensation by Iran; and thirdly, Ukraine should not have an obligation to provide Iran with the technical data of the Ukrainian airline — which is a private company – particularly because Iran is not undertaking to provide its own data until Iran is not taking proper measures to provide access to its data and at least preliminary investigation results to Ukraine and other countries involved in the matter,” Guck said.
Moreover, the draft MoU says Iran may allow international expert’s participation in the flight recorders analysis but only if Iran recognizes that it cannot do it. But so far it has been clear that Iran has not cooperated in this regard and is not capable or willing to decode flight recorders, so it’s just delaying clauses that do not foresee Iran’s obligations. The document prepared by Iran does not indicate who the responsible party for the payment of compensation is and lacks clear clauses for the identification of Iran’s obligations and the time frame for their realization, as well as any arbitral procedure if states will not reach understanding, the Ukrainian international aviation laws expert pointed out.