Iran commander sentenced to 13 years for downing of Ukrainian plane

An Iranian commander was sentenced to 13 years in prison by a military court on Sunday for shooting down a Ukrainian passenger plane in January 2020.

According to the Mizan news agency of the Iranian judiciary, the prime defendant was identified as a defense system commander, and the court also found nine air defense members of the Iranian army guilty in the lethal incident, sentencing them to imprisonment of one to three years.

The indictment issued by the court said the main defendant had “mistaken the Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 (PS752/AUI752) for a cruise missile and hit it with two missiles in contravention of the commanding center’s order and without obtaining the necessary permit.”

The court ruled that the main defendant’s behavior had been out of “ignorance” and “wrong belief that the detected target had been hostile,” and that the accused had “not intended to shoot down a passenger plane.”

The 13-year prison term comprises a three-year sentence for having committed “quasi-intentional homicide” and a 10-year one for “having canceled the issued order and in view of the widespread consequences of his action,” it reported.

The prime suspect has also been sentenced to paying monetary compensation to the victims’ next of kin.

According to Mizan, the verdicts were issued following an over-three-year “very important, sensitive, and complex” judicial process, featuring a total of 20 trial hearings and 117 plaintiffs registered complaints.

All the rulings can be appealed within 20 days since their issuance. In addition, the family of each victim will receive 150,000 U.S. dollars as reparations, the report added.

Hit by Iranian missiles in Tehran’s airspace a few minutes after taking off on Jan. 8, 2020, the Ukraine PS752 flight crashed near the capital, killing all 176 people onboard. ■

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