Iranian Military Commander Charged For Shooting Down Passenger Plane

( — A court sentenced ten members of the Iranian military to hefty jail terms for helping to bring down a Ukrainian passenger jet in 2020. The men were not named, but the “main defendant” was convicted of overseeing the incident during which an M1 surface-to-air missile system was used to shoot Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752 from the sky. The court sentenced this defendant to 13 years in jail.

The flight from Tehran to Kyiv was carrying 176 passengers, all of whom perished.

Following the tragedy, Iran admitted that the plane was shot down by its notorious Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps but said it occurred by accident. Iranian officials said troops mistook the aircraft for a cruise missile.

Families of the victims responded to the sentencing and described it as a “sham.” They said the real culprits had not been identified or punished.

The Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims released a statement on April 17th, stating that it does not recognize the legitimacy of the court as it had failed to prosecute the “main perpetrators.” Instead, it handed down sentences to “ten low-ranking officers with total obscurity of their backgrounds and identities.”

The incident occurred during a taut time for US-Iran relations. It happened only hours after Iranian forces launched missiles against a US base in Iraq in retaliation for the American execution of Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani.

The people of Iran reacted with fury to the tragedy, and anti-government protestors took to the streets. Thousands of activists gathered at the Amir Kabir University chanting for the resignation of the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. “Death to the dictator,” crowds chanted. En route to Canada, graduates from the university were among the casualties, and protestors made it clear they did not accept the explanation that the incident was accidental.

At the time, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said, “The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake. My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families.”

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