Iranian Military Commander Sentenced for Shooting Down Passenger Plane

Major General Qasem Soleimani was killed in an American drone strike in Iraq on January 3, 2020, sparking tensions between the United States and Iran. Five days later, members of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) apparently mistook a passenger airliner for an American cruise missile and shot it down over Tehran, killing all 176 people on board. Several people, including a military commander, were recently sentenced for their roles in the event, according to state-run media in Iran.

The downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 was reportedly settled by an Iranian military court on April 16, according to the Mehr News Agency. The newspaper indicated, rather cryptically, that the court “found as many as 10 people guilty” for their roles in the fatal incident. A 13-year jail term was handed down to the “main defendant,” the commander of the Tor M1 surface-to-air missile system responsible for shooting down the jet.

According to the article, after a three-year inquiry and the evidence of 55 witnesses disputed by 20 attorneys, the court reached its conclusion. Forensic medical findings, international studies, witness testimony, military documents, and expert opinion were also taken into account.

Shortly after the decision, the Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims released a statement condemning the court’s “sham ruling.” They started out by saying they have “never recognized” the Iranian military court as a “legitimate tribunal” and never will. The group also pointed out that none of the “main perpetrators of this crime” or other high-ranking officers were brought to justice. Instead, 10 “low-ranking officers” with “total obscurity” about their names and origins were paraded by Iranian officials.

Countries affected by the crash were also urged to take the case to the International Court of Justice in the news release. It further demands that the IRGC be labeled a “terrorist entity” by foreign authorities.

The group pledged to keep working for “justice and truth” for the victims of Flight PS752 as they wrapped off their statements.




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