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UNITED NATIONS, January 16 (Itar-Tass) — Russia has not received from the South Sudan authorities the “black box” the Mi-8 helicopter that was downed on December 21, Russian First Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Alexander Pankin told Russian reporters on Monday.
“They have not given us the ‘black box,’” he said, noting that the handover was to take place the day before. “The Sudanese authorities suddenly changed the decision, referring to the fact that they have set up a high-level committee set up and have to take another look at the procedure of accompanying and transfer of the ‘black box,’” Pankin said.
According to him, the Sudanese authorities have not specified so far the new timeframe of the handover of the helicopter’s flight recorders. “So far everything is delayed indefinitely. That black box is still in the safe in the UN territory, but the UN personnel so far also cannot transfer it to us without the proper authorisation,” said the diplomat.
On December 21, a Mi-8 helicopter of the Nizhnevartovskavia air carrier that was working under contract with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) was downed by fire from the ground near the Likuangole settlement (Jonglei State) in the Republic of South Sudan. The UNMISS search and rescue team dispatched to the scene confirmed the death of the crew of four Russian citizens.
A spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “The secretary-general strongly condemns the shooting down today of a clearly marked UN helicopter by the Sudan People's Liberation Army near Likuangole, in Jonglei State of South Sudan.” Mr Ban called on South Sudan's government to "immediately carry out an investigation and bring to account those responsible for this act", the spokesman said.
Officials from South Sudan have recognised that the aircraft was downed by the armed forces of the country, despite the fact that they had been in advance notified by the UN Mission under the appropriate procedure of the planned flight. On Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed concern over delays in the investigation of the incident.
According to Pankin, the UN is also investigating the helicopter shooting down incident. According to him, a group of experts of the world organisation will shortly be sent to South Sudan.