Iran’s judiciary issued prison sentences for 10 military personnel who were behind the downing of a Ukraine International Airlines commercial flight that happened back in January 2020.
This Sunday, Iran’s judiciary issued jail sentences of several years combined for 10 military personnel who were known to be responsible for mistakenly shotting down the Ukraine International Airlines flight number 752 in January 2020.
According to a report by Mizan, Iran’s judiciary news website, “the prime suspect in the case, identified only as the commander of the Tor-M1 surface-to-air missile defense system that shot down the plane with two missiles, received a 10-year discretionary sentence for not heeding orders and three years for being accessory to semi-intentional murder”.
The report also said that the commander “did not follow protocols in the moments leading up to the shooting down of the plane”, and that he “has to pay fines to families of victims”. Iran’s government also plans to pay an extra $150,000 for each victim to their families. It did not elaborate on how this money will be delivered to the families.
The court also sentenced two personnel allegedly involved in running the surface-to-air missile system Tor M-1 to one year in prison each, while the other 7 officials in Tehran’s air defense controls and the aerospace division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were given sentences ranging from one to three years.
Was Washington behind the tragedy?
Despite determining and sentencing the people responsible for the downing of Flight PS752, in which all 176 people on board were killed, Iran still openly asserts that it was ‘human error’ that caused the tragedy.
“Human error was the cause since the air defense battery personnel fired the missiles without first obtaining proper clearance from higher commanders, believing that a missile was about to hit Tehran”, Iran’s final report on the downing of the flight said.
But it is still room for question that what caused Iranian military personnel to make such a costly mistake and shoot a civil flight. It is worth mentioning here that just hours before the shootdown in January 2020, Iran had fired ballistic missiles at American bases in Iraq in retaliation for the US drone strike that killed top Iranian general Qassim Soleimani in Baghdad.
Several high-ranking officials in Tehran then made statements about possible American “disruption of Iran’s radar network” and “cyberattacks” to deliberately cause Iran to mistaken the Ukrainian non-military plane as American jet fighters and shoot it down before opening fire on Iran’s territory.
Ahmad Jannati, the Chairman of the Guardian Council said after the tragedy that the possibility of “enemy sabotage” should be investigated by authorities. Likewise, General Ali Abdollahi, the Coordinating Deputy Commander of the Armed Forces General Headquarters, also brought up the possibility of an American cyberattack that could have disabled the Iranian radar system and said the idea was under investigation by the Iranian intelligence bodies but could not be ruled out yet.
According to Abdollahi “there had been a report about a U.S. cruise missile attack in the wake of our missile launches at US bases in Iraq a few hours earlier on January 8”. He claimed that the operator of the missile fired at the plane had difficulty in receiving the message of the command center when the alert about cruise missiles was removed and mistook the plane for an incoming American missile.