Kuala Lumpur Post


Iran court jails 10 troops over 2020 Ukraine jet downing

TEHRAN, — Iran has sentenced 10 members of the armed forces to prison after finding them guilty of involvement in the downing of a Ukrainian airliner, the judiciary’s Mizan Online website reported Sunday.

Iranian forces shot down Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 shortly after its takeoff from Tehran on January 8, 2020, killing all 176 people on board. Most were Iranians and Canadians, including many dual nationals.

Mizan reported that a commander received the heaviest penalty of 10 years in prison for having defied orders in shooting down the plane.

Nine other personnel were sentenced to between one and three years, Mizan reported.

The commander of a Tor M-1 surface-to-air missile system “fired two missiles” at the airliner “contrary to orders” and without obtaining authorisation, Mizan said.

It did not identify any of the accused.

Three days after the Kyiv-bound plane was shot down, the Iranian armed forces admitted there had been a “mistake”.

“Given the extent of the effects and consequences of this action, the main defendant was sentenced to the maximum penalty,” Mizan Online added on Sunday, without giving further details.

Tensions between Iran and the United States had been soaring at the time the airliner was shot down.

High alert

Iranian air defences were on high alert for a US counterattack after Tehran fired missiles at a military base in Iraq that was used by American forces.

Those missiles came in response to the killing in a US drone attack in Baghdad of Major General Qassem Soleimani who headed the foreign operations arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Ukraine lost 11 citizens in the airline disaster.

Iran’s judiciary said in November 2021 that a trial had opened in Tehran for 10 military members “of various ranks” in connection with the jet’s downing.

In January last year, Iran said it had begun paying compensation to families of those killed.

Arash Khodaei, a vice president of the country’s Civil Aviation Organisation, said that “the sum of US$150,000 (RM660,300) has been transferred” to some families, while “the process has begun” for others.

The payment “does not infringe upon (their) right to take legal action”, state news agency IRNA quoted him as saying.

In 2020, Iran offered to pay “US$150,000 or the equivalent in euros” to each of the victims’ families.

Ukrainian and Canadian officials strongly criticised the announcement, saying compensation should not be settled through unilateral declarations.

A Canadian court awarded more than US$80 million in compensation to the families of six of the victims in a decision made public in January 2022.

That same month, an Iranian couple filed a rare lawsuit against three senior Iranian officials over the deaths of their children in the incident, an Iranian newspaper reported at the time.

A group of countries led by Canada called in December for an arbitrator to settle claims against Iran, a first step in possibly bringing a case at the International Court of Justice, which victims’ families have long demanded.

The association of families of the victims reiterated Sunday after the verdict that “an impartial, international court” should try the crime. — AFP

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