Iran’s sample of behaviour for the reason that destruction of Flight PS752 by its navy has satisfied Ottawa it will possibly’t belief Tehran’s model of occasions, says the prime minister’s particular adviser on the crash — which is why Ralph Goodale says he is counting on a specialised workforce in Canada to chase down the information.
“We are very sceptical about the Iranian process,” the previous federal cupboard minister instructed CBC News not too long ago. “We’re certainly not satisfied with what’s been delivered so far by Iran through its investigation.
“The work to get to the reality is tough. It’s painstaking work. But Canada can be completely relentless in making an attempt to resolve precisely what occurred.”
A year ago, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 in the skies over Tehran with two surface-to-air missiles, killing all 176 passengers, including 138 people with ties to Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Goodale and Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne met virtually with the victims’ families today for a private memorial ceremony.
Canada doesn’t have access to the crash site, the evidence gathered by Iranian authorities, witnesses or the accused. But it has created its own team, led by a former CSIS director, to try to piece together the sequence of events.
That team’s forensic examination is tapping into all of the government’s available intelligence, along with detective work being done by victims’ families in Canada. Many of those family members have been sorting through tips, gathering audio recordings from Iranian authorities and compiling evidence from a network of sources in Iran.
WATCH: Ralph Goodale on Iranian ‘misinformation’ about PS752 crash
Crash site bulldozed, belongings missing
Goodale said this work is required to fact-check Iran’s version of events — because Canada has good reasons to doubt Iran’s credibility and trustworthiness.
Iran originally denied any responsibility for the crash. Only after evidence mounted worldwide did Iranian officials admit their military “mistakenly” shot down the passenger plane.
Within days, the crash site was bulldozed. Families claim victims’ wedding rings, wallets and luggage were looted. Regime officials barred the families from planning their own funerals, and state-arranged funerals for the crash victims featured banners on the caskets congratulating them on their “martyrdom.”
It took six months for Iranian authorities to download and analyze the plane’s flight data recorders. Back in July, Iran issued an interim report suggesting missile operators misidentified the passenger plane as a threat and fired two missiles without approval from senior ranking officers. But Champagne has said he doesn’t believe Iran’s claim that human error was to blame.
Iran said it has set aside $150,000 in compensation for each victim’s family. The families have called the offer “hush cash.” Goodale said Iran cannot unilaterally offer families money and Canada’s negotiations have not started yet. He called Iran’s compensation offer “at finest untimely.”
Over the past year, victims’ families in Canada have reported being stalked, threatened and intimidated by suspicious characters, said Goodale. On top of that “disturbing” behaviour, he said, families and authorities have been subjected to “a considerable quantity” of misinformation disseminated by Iran.
“It appears to be a part of a deliberate technique to proceed to harass and irritate the households,” said Goodale. “It’s a part of a sample of behaviour that leads an amazing many individuals to be very skeptical about Iran’s model of occasions.”
‘It’s disheartening,’ says chair of TSB
Despite repeated requests, Iran did not grant Canada’s Transportation Safety Board (TSB) full access to its investigation.
“That can be difficult for any nation to analyze their very own navy, given the everyday kind of categorized operations that happen,” said Kathy Fox, chair of the Transportation Safety Board.
“It’s one of many causes we needed to take part … to assist to make sure the completeness of the report, the accuracy and the credibility of the ultimate report, as soon as it is issued.”
WATCH: Transportation Safety Board chair Kathy Fox on the search for answers
International protocols assign control of a crash investigation to the country where the crash took place. Fox said the TSB doesn’t have the power to investigate the destruction of Flight PS752 on its own.
“It’s disheartening,” said Fox. “Our entire raison d’etre is to search out solutions, to assist the households of those that’ve misplaced family members. to grasp what occurred, why it occurred and, extra importantly, what must occur to ensure this by no means occurs once more.”
Fox is waiting for Iran to publicly release its final report into its safety investigation. She said she’s hoping the final report will give families answers they can believe. The TSB will speak up if it believes the report is incomplete or inaccurate in any way, she said.
But the federal government says it is working on finding the truth in other ways.
Jeff Yaworski, former deputy director of operations at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, is working with a team to collate foreign intelligence, classified materials and tips sent to CSIS and the RCMP.
Yaworski’s team is also studying the type of Russian mobile defence unit used to shoot down the plane, said Goodale.
“Experts are trying on the capabilities of that exact gear, the methods by which it operated, the methods by which it communicated,” said Goodale. “Were they functioning or not? How did they perform on that exact event? Were there defects? All of that may be assessed.”
Iran ‘cannot stop us,’ says family member
Another valuable source of information has been victims’ families themselves and their networks of connections around the world and inside Iran, Goodale said.
Javad Soleimani said he put his PHD on pause at the University of Alberta to focus on searching for answers. His wife, PHD student Elnaz Nabiyi, died on Flight PS752.
WATCH: Husband of PS752 victim on his fight for the truth
Soleimani said he leads a fact-finding committee through the Association of Families of Flight PS752 that works with military and aviation experts to verify tips and evidence from a range of sources — including people connected to Tehran’s airport, the Iranian Civil Aviation Organization and the IRGC.
Key information has leaked out of Iran already. Back in July, CBC obtained a recording of a 91-minute conversation that took place March 7 between Soleimani and Hassan Rezaeifar, then the head of Iran’s investigation into the crash.
In that exchange, Rezaeifar suggested Iran’s highest authorities allowed commercial airliners to fly in and out of Tehran during the period of intense military activity when Flight 752 was shot down — because closing the airspace would have given away the regime’s plan to strike at U.S. military bases in Iraq.
After CBC News inquired with Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization, Rezaeifar was replaced as the lead investigator.
“Right now, we’re form of like fighters,” said Soleimani. “The Iranian regime can not cease us searching for justice and conceal the reality endlessly.”
Soleimani said he’s still in denial over his wife’s death. He said he has kept all of her clothes and belongings.
“I believe the second I absolutely settle for that she’s gone endlessly, I do not understand how I’m going to stay the remainder of my life,” he stated.