Hours after Iranian officials accepted blame for shooting down a Ukrainian passenger jet, Canada’s prime minister called for justice for the families of the 176 people killed.
“Shooting down a civilian aircraft is horrific. Iran must take full responsibility,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a press conference Saturday. He called the crash, which killed 63 Canadians, a “senseless loss of life.”
“Even in a moment of heightened tensions, this should never have happened,” he said. “There are going to be many conversations and reflections on consequences.”
In a phone call with Trudeau on Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had committed to collaborate on the investigation, de-escalate tensions in the region, and continue a dialogue, Trudeau said.
Iran missile strike and plane crash:Here’s how the horror unfolded
Iran had granted three visas to members of Canada’s Rapid Deployment Team and assured the nation that more Canadians would soon be granted visas, Trudeau said.
“This not government will not stop calling for answers to the questions that remain unanswered,” Trudeau said, adding that Canada was focused on providing support to grieving families.
Trudeau said he also spoke with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, who was en route to the Middle East. Abe was expected to make a five-day trip to various as part of Tokyo’s efforts to help reduce tensions in the region.
After denying fault for days, Iranian leaders accepted blame for the crash Saturday, after U.S. and Canadian officials said intelligence showed that the Iranian military gunned down the plane.
A military statement carried by Iranian state media Saturday morning local time said the plane was mistaken for a “hostile target” after it turned toward a “sensitive military center” of the Revolutionary Guard. The military was at its “highest level of readiness,” it said, amid the heightened tensions with the United States.
An Iranian air defense operator had 10 seconds to decide whether to shoot down the Ukrainian passenger jet, Brigadier-General Amir-Ali Hajizadeh, commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force, said at a press conference in Tehran.
The operator had misidentified the plane as a cruise missile and was unable to contact the central air defense command to confirm that it was a missile, so he decided to shoot it down.
“I wished I were dead,” Hajizadeh said Saturday in an address broadcast by state TV.
Iran admits shooting down jetliner:Says the strike was unintentional
All people aboard Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 were killed in the crash early Wednesday, just after Iran fired ballistic missiles on Iraqi bases housing U.S. soldiers in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike killing one of its top military leaders, Gen. Qasem Soleimani.
The dead also included 82 Iranians and 11 Ukrainians, as well as nationals from Sweden, the U.K., Afghanistan and Germany.
Ukraine International Airlines said Saturday that it would pay all insurance payments and compensations to the families of the passengers, Kyiv Post reported.
Iran had said those responsible for the strike on the plane would be prosecuted.
Meanwhile, thousands of anti-government protesters demonstrated in Tehran on Saturday.
“The voice of the Iranian people is clear. They are fed up with the regime’s lies, corruption, ineptitude, and brutality,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Twitter Saturday. “We stand with the Iranian people who deserve a better future.”
Contributing: Ryan Miller, USA TODAY;The Associated Press