Iran indicts 10 officials over downed Ukraine airliner

Military prosecutor says 10 individuals indicted over the plane shootdown that killed all 176 people on board.

Debris of the Ukraine International Airlines, flight PS752 that crashed after take-off from Iran's Imam Khomeini airport
The debris of the Ukraine International Airlines flight that crashed after being hit by missiles after takeoff from Iran's airport last year [File: Reuters]

Tehran, Iran – A military prosecutor says indictments have been brought against “10 of the officials who had a role” in the deadly downing of a Ukraine International flight over Tehran last year.

In a ceremony on Tuesday to introduce his successor, Gholam Abbas Torki said the individuals – whom he did not name or otherwise identify – will head to court soon, though he also did not provide a timeframe.

Torki said in January 2020, shortly after Flight PS752 was downed by two missiles fired from an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) air battery, that 10 individuals had been subject to disciplinary action including dismissals or demotions, and will soon go on trial.

On Tuesday, Shokrollah Bahrami, head of the Iranian armed forces’ judicial organisation, confirmed that the military court is done with the case and indictments were signed.

“Inshallah, the case will be followed up in court in the new year,” he said, referring to the Iranian new year that began on March 21.

‘Hostile object’

Flight PS752 was shot down roughly six minutes after takeoff from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport, killing all 176 people on board, in what Iran has said was the result of a tragic “human error”.

Four hours before, the IRGC fired a volley of missiles at two US bases in neighbouring Iraq in retaliation for the assassination of its top general Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike ordered by then-US President Donald Trump.

Iran’s final technical report on the downing of the flight, published last month, said a TOR M-1 surface-to-air missile defence system near the airport had not been recalibrated after being moved shortly before the incident, so it mistook the plane for a “hostile object”.

The report also said all flights to Iraq and all flights scheduled to fly over the western parts of the country had been cancelled, but the risk of misidentification of commercial flights, and flights out of Imam Khomeini airport, was deemed to be low.

“Ultimately, it can be concluded that the evaluated risk was not proportionate to existing realities and an error that was not calculated in predictions beforehand took place,” the report by the Civil Aviation Organisation of Iran said.

Ukraine and Canada, which counted many of its citizens among the deceased, harshly condemned the report with the former calling it a “cynical attempt to hide the true reasons for the downing of our plane”.

Iran’s government in January set a compensation of $150,000 for each of the families of the 176 victims.

A victim’s relative mourns during a commemorative ceremony marking the first anniversary of the Ukraine plane downing [File: Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters]
Source: Al Jazeera