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Iran prosecutor says 10 indicted for Ukraine plane shootdown as government report absolves armed forces

Military forces have been absolved [Getty]

Date of publication: 6 April, 2021

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Ten officials in Iran have been indicted over the Ukrainian passenger plane tragedy, however Iran released a report absolving armed forces of responsibility.



Ten officials have been indicted in Iran over the 2020 military shootdown of a Ukrainian passenger plane that killed 176 people, Iranian media reported Tuesday, an announcement coming just as Tehran begins indirect negotiations with the West over its collapsed nuclear deal with world powers.

The timing of the announcement comes after Iran faced withering international criticism last month for releasing a final report into the shootdown of Ukraine International Airlines flight No. PS752 that blamed human error but named no one responsible for the incident.

Tehran military prosecutor Gholamabbas Torki made the comment Tuesday while handing over his office to Nasser Seraj. The semiofficial ISNA news agency and the Iranian judiciary's Mizan news agency both reported the remarks, without elaborating.

Following three days of denial in January 2020 in the face of mounting evidence, Iran finally acknowledged that its forces mistakenly downed 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.

Iran absolves armed forces

In a final report released in English of over 145 pages, the Iranian Civil Aviation Organisation (CAO) absolved the armed forces of blame for the attack.

Instead it devoted two paragraphs to "accident causes and contributing factors".

The first paragraph indicates what was already known, namely that Iranian forces fired "two surface-to-air missiles at the flight PS752... (that) led the aircraft to crash into the ground and explode instantly."

The second paragraph examines "other contributing factors", in which it discussed the "alertness" of troops on the ground.

"The mitigating measures and defence layers in risk management proved to be ineffective due to the occurrence of an unanticipated error in threat identifications, and ultimately failed to protect the flight safety against the threats caused by the alertness of defence forces," it read.

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