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Canada offers $25K to Iran crash families

Rob Gillies
Associated Press

Toronto – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday his government will give Canadian $25,000 to the families of each of the 57 citizens and 29 permanent residents of Canada who died in the downing of a Ukrainian jetliner in Iran last week.

Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, displayed in the viewfinder of a video camera, speaks a press conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa, Friday, Jan. 17, 2020.

Trudeau said he still expects Iran to compensate the families but added that they need help now for funerals, travel to Iran and bills. He said any money Iran provides at a later date will go straight to the families and will not be reimbursed to the Canadian government.

“I want to be clear, we expect Iran to compensate these families,” Trudeau said. “But I have met them. They can’t wait weeks. They need support now.”

Asked if the U.S. bears any responsibility after President Donald Trump ordered the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s top general, in a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad, Trudeau said Iran bears full responsibility for having shot down a civilian airline with 176 people aboard.

The prime minister also said the “black boxes” have been significantly damaged and Iran does not have the expertise or equipment needed to look at them. He said France has a lab that can do it. He said there is a need to do it as quickly as possible.

The spokesman for the French accident investigating bureau, or BEA, said it has no information about eventually obtaining the demolished airplane’s black boxes, the voice and data recorders, to decipher them. Sebastien Barthe added that it is up to Iran, which is in charge of the investigation, to decide the matter.

Trudeau said no remains of Canadian victims have returned to Canada yet but he expects that to start happening in the coming days.

Trudeau held the news conference in Ottawa after Canadian Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne met his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, in Muscat, Oman on Friday.

A statement from Champagne’s office said the two discussed the need to provide consular services to assist in ensuring victim identification and the importance of a transparent investigation.

Iran downed the flight as it braced for possible American retaliation after firing ballistic missiles at two bases in Iraq housing U.S. forces. The missile attack, which caused no U.S. casualties, was a response to the killing of Iran’s top general.