Iran: Prison sentences for those behind the downing of the Ukraine flight

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (AFP) – An Iranian court has sentenced an air defense commander allegedly responsible for shooting down a deadly passenger jet amid Iran-US tensions several years ago, an official news agency reported Sunday.

The IRGC mistakenly shot down a Ukraine International Airlines flight in January 2020. The missile strike killed all 176 people on board and brought Tehran and Washington to the brink of war.

The official judiciary news agency said the Revolutionary Guards commander who officials allege ordered the strike had been sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Mizan said the commander did not follow protocols in the moments before the plane was shot down. The report added that the commander ordered fines to be paid to the families of the victims.

Mezan said the court also sentenced two people allegedly involved in the operation of the Tor M-1 surface-to-air missile system to one year in prison each.

After a long series of hearings, the court sentenced at least seven other employees and air defense officers to prison terms of up to three years. According to Mizan, the rulings are subject to appeal within 20 days.

The report did not identify any of the defendants by name or other details.

The judiciary news agency also said the Iranian government plans to pay $150,000 for each victim to their families. It did not explain how this money would be delivered to the families.

The hearings have faced international criticism since their inception in 2021. At the time, an association of victims’ families criticized the hearing and cast doubt on the court’s legitimacy. The group also claimed that none of the defendants were present at the hearings.

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Hours before the shooting in January 2020, Iran launched ballistic missiles at US bases in Iraq in retaliation for the US drone strike that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad.

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