The RCMP has been assigned to help identify the remains of Canadians killed in the destruction of a Ukrainian passenger plane outside Tehran last week.
The RCMP directs the Canadian office of the international police agency Interpol.
“The RCMP can confirm that Interpol Ottawa has received a request for assistance. It is currently working with the Canadian jurisdiction police to collect some DNA samples from the families of Canadian victims, within Canada, to help identify victims.” said RCMP spokesman Cpl. Caroline Duval in an email.
Duval said the DNA database of the national police force will use those samples to create profiles, which will then be sent back to the Interpol team in Tehran.
She said that, so far, there has been no need to send Canadian identification investigators to the scene of the accident in Iran.
Canadian transport investigators planned to visit the wreckage of the plane, which Iran said was accidentally shot down last week by the regime’s Revolutionary Guard using ground-to-air missiles.
The president of the Transportation Safety Board, Kathy Fox, also said that Iran indicated that Canadian investigators will have access to the flight data recorders from the black box from the plane, but warned that Canada’s role in the investigation further beyond that it is still unclear.
“The role of Canada is evolving. It remains to be seen how far we can go,” he told a news conference on Monday in Ottawa.
“We are going day by day in terms of how long they will be there, what they can do and when they will leave.”
The visit of the TSB investigators is taking place after the spokesman for Iran’s judiciary, Gholamhossein Esmaili, said “extensive investigations have been carried out and some people are arrested.”
His statement on the website of the judiciary did not name the individuals arrested or say how many had been arrested.
Leaders meeting on Thursday to push for accountability
The plane crash happened only hours after Iran launched air strikes against two military bases in Iraq where US and some Canadian forces were stationed. The measure was seen as a reprisal for the selective assassination by the Trump administration of Iran’s chief general, Qassem Soleimani, the previous week.
On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted that he and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discussed the need to “punish” the Iranians responsible for shooting down the Ukrainian plane.
Canada, Ukraine and their international allies are preparing for a meeting on Thursday in which they are expected to pressure Iran for justice for the families of the victims.
Trudeau has said he believes all victims would be safe in Canada at this time had it not been for the recent escalation of tensions between Iran and the United States.
“I think if there were no tensions, if there was not a recent escalation in the region, those Canadians would now be home with their families,” he said Monday in an interview with Global News.