DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Ten officials have been indicted in Iran over the 2020 military slaughter of a Ukrainian airliner that killed 176 people, a prosecutor said on 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 stiff international criticism last month for issuing a final report on the shooting of Ukraine International Airlines flight No PS752 which blamed human error but did not name anyone responsible for the incident.
Tehran’s military prosecutor, Gholamabbas Torki, also avoided naming those responsible when he announced the charges on Tuesday by handing over his duties to Nasser Seraj. The semi-official ISNA news agency and Iranian justice news agency Mizan both reported his remarks.
“The indictment of the Ukrainian plane case was also published and a serious and precise investigation was carried out and indictments were issued against 10 people at fault,” Mizan said, quoting Torki, without giving more details. details.
After three days of denial in January 2020 in the face of mounting evidence, Iran has finally admitted that its paramilitary Revolutionary Guards mistakenly shot down the Ukrainian airliner with two surface-to-air missiles. In preliminary reports on last year’s disaster, Iranian authorities accused an air defense operator they said mistook the Boeing 737-800 for a US cruise missile.
The shooting took place the same day Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on US troops in Iraq in retaliation for a US drone strike that killed a senior Iranian general. While Guard officials have publicly apologized for the incident, Iran’s reluctance to elaborate on what happened during the incident shows the power the force wields.
Following the publication of Iran’s final investigative report, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba criticized the results as a “cynical attempt to hide the real causes of the downfall of our passenger planes.” He accused Iran of having carried out a “biased” investigation into the disaster which resulted in “misleading” conclusions.
Many passengers on the flight were planning to connect to Kiev on their way to Canada, which is home to a large Iranian population. Canada’s foreign affairs and transport ministers also criticized the report, saying it “contains no hard facts or evidence” and “does not attempt to answer critical questions about what really happened.”
The announcement came just hours before Iran and the five world powers that remained in its atomic deal met in Vienna, where the United States is due to start indirect talks with Tehran.
Associated Press editors Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran, and Isabel DeBre in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.