Iran: Jail terms for those behind downing of Ukraine flight

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — An Iranian court has convicted an air defense commander allegedly responsible for the deadly downing of a passenger jet amid tensions between Iran and the United States several years ago, a state news agency.

Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard mistakenly shot down a Ukraine International Airlines flight in January 2020. The missile attack killed all 176 people on board and came as Tehran and Washington were about to fall into war

The Guard commander who officials say ordered the strike was sentenced to 13 years in prison, the official court media said.

Mizan said the commander did not follow protocols in the moments before the plane went down. The commander was ordered to pay fines to the victims’ families, the report added.

Mizan said the court also sentenced two members allegedly involved in the execution of the Tor M-1 surface-to-air missile system to one year in prison.

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

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

The Judiciary News Agency also said Iran’s government plans to pay $150,000 for each victim to their families. It has not been detailed how this money will be delivered to the families.

The hearings have faced international criticism since 2021. At the time, an association of victims’ relatives also criticized the hearing and questioned the court’s legitimacy. The group also alleged that none of the defendants were present at the hearings.

Just hours before the January 2020 attack, Iran had fired 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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