Ukraine said Wednesday it asked Iran to give it the black box flight recorders from the Ukrainian International Airlines plane the Iranian military accidentally shot down last week.
A statement from Ukraine’s prosecutor’s office said it is taking all necessary measures to ensure the recorders are properly decrypted and to preserve all evidence as investigators carry out their probe of the incident.
Alexander Ruvin, director of the Kyiv Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Science, told Ukrainian media after returning from leading an investigation team in Iran that Iranian specialists were due to arrive in Kyiv on Wednesday, and that analysts expect to begin examining the flight recorders on Monday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said he and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani agreed that experts from their countries would work together, including on deciphering the black boxes. Zelenskiy and French President Emmanuel Macron also agreed to have French specialists help with that work.
Iran initially said mechanical problems caused the commercial jetliner to go down, before admitting days later that Iranian military personnel shot down the plane, killing all 176 people on board.
The revelation sparked days of protests in Iran as people expressed their anger at the country’s leaders.
“The last few nights we’ve had people in the streets of Tehran demonstrating against the fact that they were lied to for a couple of days,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Wednesday. “This was a very serious situation. We believe that it is, the fact that it wasn’t disclosed early enough.”
He went on to offer praise to the military for doing what he said sometimes never comes after similar incidents, saying they “were brave enough to claim responsibility early on.”
“But people are angry even with those two days. That is the expectation that people have with the government, that the government should have disclosed the information.”
The downing of the plane happened hours after Iran fired missiles at U.S. forces in Iraq and was bracing for a U.S. counterstrike that never came. Iran’s missile attacks, which caused no casualties, were in retaliation for what the United States called a self-defensive strike that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on Jan. 3.