The Iranian Islamic Republic’s military court sentenced 10 people to prison for their roles in the shooting down of a Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737, which was operating flight PS752.
Mizan News Agency, the news agency of the Iranian judiciary system, announced the verdict on April 14, 2023. Ali Eftekhari, the head of the Iranian military court, stated that the case was complex and had “numerous technical aspects”, which is why it was brought forward to the military court. According to Eftekhari, there were “a number of people other than military people to blame.” The court sentenced 10 people to prison to varying sentences.
“As can be seen in the case verdict, the case has 10 defendants and the levels in the case are from the command to the system user,” added Eftekhari, noting that the ranks of the accused ranged from Second brigadier to Third Lieutenant.
The head of the court pointed out that the operator of the Tor M1 surface-to-air missile made two mistakes, namely that he failed to adjust the level of the radar associated with the system and he did not inquire with another command center whether to shoot down the target. While the defendant stated there was a loss of communication, “the loss of communication was not confirmed,” noted Eftekhari, adding that he “acted on his own judgment and fired”.
“The diagnosis was incorrect, and this error is an individual and human error,” he concluded.
Families of Flight PS752 victims denounce a “sham ruling”
The PS752 Association, uniting the victims’ families of the accident, which claimed the lives of 176 people, called the trial’s rulings “meaningless and unacceptable”.
“This court did not prosecute the commanders and main perpetrators of this crime, introduced ten accused low-ranking officers with total obscurity of their backgrounds and identities, held sessions in private, flouted the families who attended the hearings, and ultimately issued a sham ruling to end this show in keeping with their predetermined scenario without conducting any full, impartial investigation,” added the PS752 Association.
The families issued four demands to the four governments, whose citizens were killed in the accident:
- The referral of the dispute to the International Court of Justice by the four affected countries must be filed immediately after the end of the arbitration period, on June 28, 2023.
- The four affected countries must support the complaint filed by the Association to the International Criminal Court.
- The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) must be listed as a terrorist entity.
- The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) must open a criminal case and investigate the downing of Flight PS752 and the immense loss of life of Canadian citizens.
On January 8, 2020, the Ukrainian International Airlines Boeing 737-800 NextGeneration (NG) was operating a regularly scheduled flight PS752 between Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKA), Tehran, Iran, and Boryspil International Airport (KBP), Kyiv, Ukraine. Shortly after taking off from IKA, the aircraft was struck down by two surface-to-air missiles, killing 176 people onboard. The victims included Iranian, Canadian, Ukrainian, Swedish, Afghani, and British nationals.
In March 2021, the Civil Aviation Organization of the Islamic Republic of Iran (CAA.IRI) concluded that “human error” was to be blamed for the downing of the Boeing 737.