10 indicted over shooting down of Ukraine airliner, Iran says
Ten officials have been indicted in Iran over the 2020 military shootdown of a Ukrainian passenger plane, which killed 176 people, a prosecutor said Tuesday.
The announcement came as Tehran was about to begin indirect negotiations with the U.S. over Washington’s possible reentry into the nuclear deal that Iran struck with world powers. The indictments also follow withering international criticism last month of Iran’s final report into the downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752, which blamed human error but named no one responsible.
Outgoing Iranian military prosecutor Gholamabbas Torki similarly avoided identifying those responsible when he announced the indictments Tuesday while handing over his office to Nasser Seraj. The semi-official ISNA news agency and the Iranian judiciary’s Mizan news agency both reported his remarks.
“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 shot down the Ukrainian jetliner with two surface-to-air missiles. In preliminary reports on the disaster last year, Iranian authorities blamed an air-defense operator who they said mistook the Boeing 737-800 for an American cruise missile.
The shootdown happened the same day Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on U.S. troops in Iraq in retaliation for an American drone strike that killed a top Iranian general. Although Revolutionary Guard officials publicly apologized for the incident, Tehran’s reluctance to elaborate on what happened shows the power the guard wields.
President Biden’s dilemma on the Iran nuclear deal: Go slow and risk war, or move fast even if it means an imperfect pact that hurts his domestic agenda.
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, the Ukrainian capital, to fly on to Canada, which is home to a large Iranian population. Canada’s foreign and transport ministers similarly criticized 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 of the indictments came just hours before Iran and the five world powers remaining in its atomic accord meet in Vienna, where the U.S. is due to start indirect talks with Tehran.
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