Iran Threatens Families of Ukrainian Plane Crash Victims, Widower Says

By Azadeh Karimi

Javad Soleimani Meimandi — the husband of Elnaz Nabiyi, who died in the tragic crash of a Ukrainian passenger plane on Jan. 8 — has accused Iranian authorities of intimidating and threatening the families of the victims who have been demanding answers and seeking justice for their loved ones.

Ms. Nabiyi was one of the 176 people on board of Ukraine Airlines Flight PS752 who perished when the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) unintentionally shot down the passenger plane near Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport.

“They [authorities] threaten the victims’ families for wanting justice,” Mr. Meimandi said in an Instagram message on March 2. “They threaten some of them with rape.”

“You threaten a mother whose child you had cut to pieces,” Meimandi protested. “You forced a victim’s father to sit for a [sham] interview.”

“The Ministry of Intelligence and the IRGC compete over which one is more sinister,” Meimandi added. “We will soon tell the story of what the family of one victim has endured.”

The downing of the Ukrainian passenger plane occurred only a few hours after the IRGC fired a series of missiles at the Al Asad Air Base in Iraq, which housed Iraqi and U.S. troops.

Iran said the attack on the Al Asad Air Base was in retaliation against the killing of Lieutenant General Ghasem Soleimani, the commander of the IRGC’s Qods Force (IRGC-QF), who died in a targeted U.S. drone strike at Baghdad Airport on Jan 3.

Tehran initially denied reports that its military had shot down the Ukrainian plane, but eventually admitted that its surface-to-air defense systems had downed the aircraft.

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Meimandi is a postgraduate student at the Alberta School of Business in Canada. His late wife, Nabiyi, 31, was a postgraduate student in the Department of Accounting, Operations, and Information Systems in the Alberta School of Business. The couple had moved to Canada in 2018.

In early February, Canadian lawyers filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of victims of the Ukrainian plane crash for at least $1.1 billion (U.S. dollars) in compensation against Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the IRGC and others.

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Some families have written to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Court of Justice, asking for an investigation into the incident.

The outbreak of coronavirus has, however, given the Islamic Republic another excuse to impede any inquiry into the tragedy.

Meanwhile, the families of the victims are still waiting for answers and justice for their loved ones.

[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]


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