Iran prosecutor says 10 charged over downing of Ukraine plane

Dubai: Ten Iranian officials have been indicted over the 2020 military downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane that killed 176 people, a prosecutor said, the announcement coming just as Tehran began indirect negotiations with the West over its collapsed nuclear deal with world powers.

The announcement comes after Iran faced withering international criticism last month for releasing a final report into the shoot-down of Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 that blamed human error but named no one responsible for the incident.

Tehran military prosecutor Gholamabbas Torki similarly avoided naming those responsible when he announced the indictments on Tuesday, Iran time. The semi-official ISNA news agency and the Iranian judiciary’s Mizan news agency both reported his remarks.

The Ukrainian International Airlines plane crashed in Shahedshahr, south-west of Tehran, after being shot down by an Iranian missile.Credit:AP

“The indictment of the case of the Ukrainian plane was also issued and a serious and accurate investigation was carried out and indictments were issued for 10 people who were at fault,” Mizan quoted Torki as saying, without elaborating.

Following three days of denial in January 2020 in the face of mounting evidence, Iran finally acknowledged that its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard mistakenly downed the Ukrainian jetliner with two surface-to-air missiles. In preliminary reports on the disaster last year, Iranian authorities blamed an air defence operator who they said mistook the Boeing 737-800 for an American cruise missile.



The downing happened the same day Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on US troops in Iraq in retaliation for an American drone strike that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. While Guard officials publicly apologised for the incident, the hesitancy of Iran to elaborate on what happened in the incident shows the power the force wields.

Following the release of Iran’s final investigative report, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba lambasted the findings as a “cynical attempt to hide the true causes of the downing of our passenger aircraft”. He accused Iran of conducting a “biased” probe into the disaster that resulted in “deceptive” conclusions.

Many on the flight planned to connect in Kyiv to fly onto Canada, which is home to a large Iranian population. Canada’s foreign and transport ministers similarly criticised the report, saying that it “has no hard facts or evidence” and “makes no attempt to answer critical questions about what truly happened.”

The announcement came just hours before Iran and the five world powers remaining in its atomic accord where due to meet in Vienna, where the US is re-entering indirect talks with Tehran.

AP

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