Iran agrees to compensate families of victims on downed plane, says Sweden's foreign minister

A Ukrainian Boeing 737 was struck by two missiles after take-off from Tehran. Iran initially denied shooting down the plane.
Rescue teams survey the scene of a Ukrainian airliner that crashed shortly after take-off near Imam Khomeini airport in Tehran, Iran, on Jan. 8, 2020.
Rescue teams survey the scene of a Ukrainian airliner that crashed shortly after take-off near Imam Khomeini airport in Tehran, Iran, on Jan. 8, 2020.Akbar Tavakoli / AFP - Getty Images file

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By Dan De Luce

WASHINGTON — Sweden said Thursday that Iran has agreed to compensate the families of victims who were killed when a Ukrainian airliner was shot down by Iranian forces outside Tehran in January.

Sweden's Foreign Minister Ann Linde said the agreement had been clinched following negotiations between Iran and the countries with citizens among the victims.

"We have signed an agreement of mutual understanding that we will now negotiate with Iran about amends, compensation to the victims' next of kin," Linde told the Swedish news agency TT.

Linde said there was "no doubt" that Iran would follow through on the compensation. The details of any compensation remained unclear.

The Boeing 737, bound for the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, was hit by two ground-to-air missiles and crashed shortly after take off from Tehran on Jan. 8. All 176 aboard were killed.

Iran initially denied it had downed the passenger plane. But three days later, officials said Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps forces accidentally shot down the jet amid a tense standoff with the U.S., calling it a “disastrous mistake.”

The airliner went down shortly after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on U.S. military bases in Iraq. The missile barrage in Iraq was in retaliation for a U.S. drone strike that took out Iran’s top military commander Gen. Qassim Suleimani.

Victims aboard the Ukrainian plane included citizens of Canada, Sweden, the U.K, Afghanistan and Ukraine. Out of 176 on board, 57 were Canadians. Many of the passengers were scheduled to catch a connecting flight to Toronto.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif last week said his government would send the black boxes from the downed jetliner to France for analysis, according to Iran’s IRNA news agency.

For months, Canada has demanded Iran send the black boxes abroad so experts can analyze the data.

Sweden’s foreign ministry, Canada’s foreign ministry, Iran’s mission at the United Nations and the State Department did not respond to requests for comment.