Iran said the suspects included missile defense personnel who had committed a “catastrophic mistake”.
The Iranian judiciary has announced prison sentences for 10 unnamed people it says are responsible for the downing of a commercial flight of Ukraine International Airlines in January 2020.
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 discretionary sentence of 10 years for failure to heed orders and three years for being “accomplice to quasi-intentional homicide,” according to the news site. official judiciary.
It added that the unnamed person would serve a maximum of 10 years in prison, minus time served, and must pay compensation to the families of the flight’s 176 victims.
In addition, two people who operated the missile system were sentenced to one year in prison, while other officials of the Tehran Air Defense Controls and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Space Division were given sentences ranging from one to three years.
The suspects will reportedly face further penalties, which have not been determined by the judiciary.
All rulings – handed down after 20 hearings – were preliminary and subject to appeal. A military court was also ordered to continue investigations into other individuals who may have been involved.
According to the judicial authority, the case involved 117 plaintiffs, 55 of whom testified in court and were represented by 20 lawyers.
The PS752 took off from Imam Khomeini International Airport in the Iranian capital in the early morning hours of January 8, 2020, and was shot down minutes after take-off. Iranian authorities initially denied shooting down the plane but admitted a “catastrophic mistake” three days later.
Iran’s final report on the downing of the flight said “human error” was the cause since air defense battery personnel fired the missiles without first obtaining proper clearance from higher commanders, believing a missile was about to hit Tehran.
The incident occurred shortly after the Iranian Revolutionary Guards launched missiles at two US bases in neighboring Iraq in retaliation for the assassination of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander, General Qassem Soleimani, by an American drone.
Sunday’s judiciary report also corroborated that account, saying personnel did not calibrate the defense system after it was moved shortly before the incident, and ignored orders to obtain direct approval to fire during the chaos of that night as Iran anticipated a possible US attack.
But several families of the victims, as well as officials in Ukraine and Canada – who counted dozens of citizens among the passengers – have condemned Iran for what they describe as a lack of transparency and cooperation.
A Canadian court ruled in 2021 that the overthrow was an “act of terrorism” amid Tehran’s claims that the case was politicized. Another court has also awarded tens of millions of dollars to some families that can be taken from Iranian assets in Canada.
The Iranian government in late 2020 set $150,000 in compensation for each of the victims’ families and later said payments had begun, but it is unclear how much was paid.