Ukraine says Iran to hand over downed jet’s black boxes

Ukraine said Iran was ready to hand over the black box flight recorders of the Ukrainian passenger plane downed by an Iranian missile. (File/AFP)
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Updated 17 January 2020

Ukraine says Iran to hand over downed jet’s black boxes

  • Ukraine’s FM said Iran would grant a team of investigators from Iran and Canada as the countries that have lost the most nationals access to the recorders
  • Canadian PM Justin Trudeau urged Iran to send the flight and cockpit data recorders from the crashed jet to France for analysis

KIEV: Ukraine said Friday Iran was ready to hand over the black box flight recorders of the Ukrainian passenger plane downed by an Iranian missile.
The Kiev-bound Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737, crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran last Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board, mostly Iranian and Canadian citizens.
Ukraine's foreign minister said Iran would grant a team of investigators from Iran and Canada as the countries that have lost the most nationals access to the recorders.
“After that, the Iranian side is ready to separately transfer the black boxes to Ukraine,” Vadym Prystaiko told lawmakers during a parliamentary session.
“This is consistent with international standards, although we still demand that they be given to us immediately to ensure the independence and objectivity of the investigation,” Prystaiko said.

Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday urged Iran to send the flight and cockpit data recorders from the crashed jet to France for analysis and said the first remains of victims should soon arrive back in Canada.

"Iran does not have the level of technical expertise and mostly the equipment necessary to be able to analyze these damaged black boxes quickly," Trudeau said.

He told a news conference in Ottawa that France was one of the few countries with the ability to read the plane's so-called black boxes, which he said were badly damaged.

“The right place to send those black boxes to get proper information from them and in a rapid way" is France, he said, adding "that is what we're encouraging the Iranian authorities to agree to."

Trudeau also said his government will give Canadian $25,000 ($19,122) to families of each of the 57 citizens and 29 permanent residents of Canada who perished in the downing of a Ukrainian jetliner in Iran last week.
He added he still expects Iran to compensate the families but said 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."
After initial denials, Iran admitted it has shot down the plane “unintentionally” while on high alert after firing missiles at US troops stationed in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani by a US strike.
Prystaiko told CNN on Wednesday that Kiev has “good cooperation” with Tehran on the crash probe, but lacked “access to the information stored in the black boxes.”
“We just want to know that nobody will be tampering with the recordings themselves,” he said.
Prystaiko said an Iranian official will visit Kiev next week “to apologize officially and provide explanations.”
On Thursday, Canada, Ukraine, Sweden, Afghanistan and Britain issued a five-point plan for cooperation with Iran during the investigation, calling for “full and unhindered access” for foreign officials.


Yemen imposes curfew, frees low-risk inmates

Updated 03 April 2020

Yemen imposes curfew, frees low-risk inmates

  • At least five Yemeni provinces have begun releasing dozens of prisoners to protect them from the illness

AL-MUKALLA: Local authorities in Yemen’s southeastern Hadramout province have imposed a curfew in major cities as the country steps up its fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

The move came as other regions began releasing low-risk prisoners to help protect prisons from an outbreak of the virus.

Maj. Gen. Faraj Al-Bahsani, Hadramout’s governor, said that he was forced to impose the curfew after people ignored appeals to stay at home and avoid gatherings.

The streets of Al-Mukalla and neighboring cities appeared empty as police and military vehicles roamed major roads to monitor the curfew from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Despite having not recorded a single case of the virus, at least five Yemeni provinces have begun releasing dozens of prisoners to protect them from the illness.

Authorities in Hadramout, Mahra, Shabwa and Dhalae have released 200, 49, 43 and 34 prisoners, respectively. All had completed the bulk of their sentences or were low-risk inmates. Officials said the release of the prisoners will ease crowded prisons and help isolate the remaining prisoners.

Since early last month, Yemen’s internationally recognized government has ordered provincial governors to take tough measures to prevent the spread of the disease in their provinces.

Yemen has shut down borders, and closed airports, schools and mosques as vital medical supplies have begun arriving in the country. Several quarantine facilities have been established in Aden, Haramout, Shabwa and Mahra, Sanaa, Baydha and other provinces.

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Maj. Gen. Faraj Al-Bahsani, Hadramout’s governor, said that he was forced to impose the curfew after people ignored appeals to stay at home and avoid gatherings.

But critics have questioned the effectiveness of the measures without cooperation between local authorities across the country.

While Hadramout imposes an overnight curfew, markets and shops in neighboring provinces are still bustling with people.

Other governors appeared reluctant to shut down qat markets that attract thousands of people daily.

Fatehi Ben Lazreq, editor of Aden Al-Ghad newspaper, criticized the lack of regional cooperation.

“Each governor has his own legislation,” he told Arab News on Thursday. “The central government is weak and absent.”

He warned that without tougher regulations and cooperation between health offices across Yemen, the disease could overwhelm the country’s fragile health system.

Despite the arrival of medical supplies in the past two weeks, local health workers have complained about a shortage of protective gear.

Doctors, nurses and health workers at Ibn Sina Hospital in Al-Mukalla staged a protest outside the facility on Thursday, demanding more personal protective items and claiming that current supplies will run out within two weeks.

The hospital, one of the biggest in Yemen, offers health services to the provinces of Hadramout, Mahra and Shabwa.

Alabed Bamousa, the hospital’s manager, told Arab News that he has alerted local health authorities and the World Health Organization office in Yemen to the scarcity of protective equipment at the hospital.

“I am waiting for those items to arrive,” he said.

Meanwhile, Yemeni activists have launched a social media campaign to pressure warring factions in Yemen to release prisoners, warning that poor conditions in prisons make them breeding grounds for the virus.

Under #SaveYemeniPrisoners, the activists urged rival Yemeni groups to honor their commitments to release prisoners under the UN-brokered Stockholm Agreement.

“With one voice, all human rights activists inside and outside Yemen say release the detainees before it is too late,” Hooria Mashhour, a former human rights minister, said on Twitter on Wednesday.

Mashhour said that she is taking part in the campaign as part of efforts to secure the release of hundreds of Yemeni activists, politicians and journalists detained in the past five years.

“If this epidemic enters Yemen, it will be a catastrophe for all Yemenis. It will severely affect prisoners and detainees who are crammed into dungeons that lack the most basic health standards,” she said.

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