First remains repatriated to Canada following Iran plane crash
OTTAWA -- The remains of one Canadian who was killed in the Iran plane crash have been repatriated, Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne confirmed Tuesday.
The remains are the first to be repatriated since 57 Canadian citizens were killed when an Iranian surface-to-air missile struck a Ukrainian aircraft over Tehran on Jan. 8.
Twenty-nine permanent residents of Canada were also killed in the tragedy.
"There's been one repatriation of remains which took place," Champagne told reporters following a Liberal caucus meeting in Winnipeg on Tuesday.
"We respected the wish of the family to respect their privacy…that's why this already occurred."
He added that a number of other families have indicated they would like to see their loved ones' remains repatriated. While Champagne did not confirm how many, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had said on Jan. 17 that 20 families have requested the repatriation of remains.
The news comes as many families are reporting difficulty in repatriating the remains of their loved ones, given that Iran does not recognize the validity of Canadian passports belonging to dual citizens. As a result, the country is maintaining that just three Canadians died in the tragedy -- not 57.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Trudeau called on Iran to respect families' wishes when it comes to the countries where they'd like to see their loved ones buried.
"Respecting the wishes of the families lines up not with a question of citizenship, but it lines up also with international laws and practice and with principles around Islam for burials," Trudeau said.
"So we've been insisting on that with Iran and that is what we are hoping they will continue to do."
The government has also been pushing Iran to compensate the affected families. While Iran has yet to confirm whether it intends to provide such compensation, the Canadian government has provided $25,000 in compensation for each of the Canadian victims of the downed aircraft.
"I want to be clear: we expect Iran to compensate these families. But I have met them. They can't wait weeks. They need support now," Trudeau told reporters last week.
The Iranian-led investigation into the tragedy is ongoing, and Canada has been pushing for access to the plane's damaged black boxes. An early report from Iran's Civil Aviation Organization is calling for technical assistance from the U.S. or France in analyzing the data.
Canada has been clear about one thing throughout the process: it is demanding a credible and thorough investigation.
"The world is watching Iran," Champagne said.
With files from The Canadian Press.