Ukrainian President demands 'full admission of guilt', compensation from Iran over downing of passenger plane

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday said that he expects a full investigation as well as an admission of guilt and compensation from the Iran regime following the downing of the a Boeing passenger plane last week.

Zelensky's comments came shortly after Tehran said it had mistakenly shot down the plane killing all 176 people on board on January 8, Al Jazeera reported. The jetliner, a Boeing 737-800 operated by Ukraine International Airlines, had gone down on the outskirts of Tehran during takeoff.

While the majority of passengers on flight PS752, en route to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, were dual national Iranian-Canadians, it also included Ukrainians, Afghans, Britons and Swedes.

"Iran has pleaded guilty to crashing the Ukrainian plane. But we insist on a full admission of guilt," Zelensky wrote on Facebook.

"We expect from Iran assurances of their readiness for a full and open investigation, bringing those responsible to justice, the return of the bodies of the dead, the payment of compensation, official apologies through diplomatic channels," he said.

"Our 45 experts must get full access and cooperation to establish justice," he added.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, in a statement posted on social media, said that the country "deeply regrets this disastrous mistake".

In a phone conversation with Zelensky, Rouhani said that "all those involved in the air disaster (of plane crash) will be brought to justice."

He said that the joint investigations between the Iranian and Ukrainian experts over the incident will continue and the judicial measures will "soon" start.

Also Read: 'Great tragedy & unforgivable mistake': Iran President Rouhani condemns shooting down of a Ukrainian jetliner

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had also offered his condolences and ordered the armed forces to address "shortcomings" so that such a disaster does not happen again.

The acknowledgement came after officials in Iran had categorically denied Western claims that the Ukraine International Airlines airliner had been downed in a catastrophic error.

Following the incident, protests hit central Tehran. A group of Iranian demonstrators on Saturday demanded the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to step down as protests hit central Tehran after its military mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian plane, killing all 176 people on board last week. "Commander-in-chief [Khamenei] resign, resign," videos posted on Twitter showed hundreds of people chanting in front of Tehran's Amir Kabir University.

A military statement carried by state media said the plane had been mistaken for a "hostile target." The military was at its "highest level of readiness," it said, amid the heightened tensions with the United States.

"In such a condition, because of human error and in a unintentional way, the flight was hit," the military said. It apologized and said it would upgrade its systems to prevent future tragedies.

Those responsible for the strike on the plane would be prosecuted, the statement added.

Also Read: UK ambassador to Iran arrested during protests in Tehran: British govt

(With inputs from agencies)