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Iran signals Canada could play active role in probe of downed plane, official says

Credit: REUTERS/WANA NEWS AGENCY

Iran has signaled that Canada's Transportation Safety Board (TSB) would play a more active role than international rules require in the investigation of the Iranian military's shooting down of a Ukrainian airliner last week, TSB head Kathy Fox said on Monday.

By Allison Lampert

OTTAWA, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Iran has signaled that Canada's Transportation Safety Board (TSB) would play a more active role than international rules require in the investigation of the Iranian military's shooting down of a Ukrainian airliner last week, TSB head Kathy Fox said on Monday.

A missile fired by Iran brought down the Ukrainian airlines plane on Jan. 8 killing all 176 aboard, including 57 Canadians.

"In this investigation - and I want to be clear about this - - we do not yet fully know what the scope of our role will be," Fox said in a news conference.

She added that "there have been early signs that Iran is allowing the TSB to play a more active role than normally permitted", such as by inviting its investigators to participate in downloading and analyzing the data in the cockpit voice and flight data recorders "whenever and wherever that takes place".

Canada has been invited to participate in the probe because a large number of its citizens were involved, but according to international rules Iran leads the investigation.

The TSB's director of investigations, Natacha Van Themsche, said one of the main questions is why Iran did not shut down the airspace around Tehran given the tensions created by Iran's missile attack on Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops earlier on the day of the tragedy. Iran attacked the bases in retaliation for the U.S. killing of an Iranian general days earlier.

On Sunday, the TSB said it had obtained visas for two of its investigators to travel to Iran. A second team of investigators who specialize in aircraft recorder download and analysis will be deployed once TSB confirms where and when that activity would take place, the agency said.

(Reporting by Allison Lampert, additional reporting by David Ljunggren, writing by Steve Scherer; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Grant McCool)

((steve.scherer@thomsonreuters.com; +1-613-235-6745;))

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