Ukrainian plane crash dossier to be sent to court after investigations: Armed Forces Judicial Organization

June 30, 2020 - 19:30

TEHRAN - Head of the Judicial Organization of the Armed Forces said on Tuesday that extensive investigations have been carried out over the Ukrainian plane crash incident and the dossier will be sent to court after investigations are completed.

“We have carried out extensive investigations in this dossier and have reached good results,” Shokrollah Bahrami told reporters.

Bahrami also noted that the families of the victims will receive financial compensation for the incident.

The Ukrainian passenger plane, with 176 people aboard, was mistaken for an invading missile. The tragic incident happened a few hours after Iran fired missiles at a U.S. air base in western Iraq in retaliation for the January 3 assassination of General Qassem Soleimani. Following the retaliation attack, the Iranian military had been put on high alert. 

The victims of the crash included 82 Iranians, 63 Iranian-Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans, and three British nationals.

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for International and Legal Affairs Mohsen Baharvand said on Sunday that France will start decoding black boxes of the Ukrainian plane.

“Decoding black box of the Ukrainian plane will start in France on July 20 under supervision of an Iranian team,” IRNA quoted Baharvand as saying.

He added, “The Islamic Republic of Iran’s experts will lead the investigation and the decoding will be done under the Iranian team’s supervision and guidance. Other countries which are related to this regrettable incident can dispatch delegations to France as observers.”

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had announced on June 22 that Iran will send the black boxes to France.
 
“The Islamic Republic of Iran will send the black box of the Ukrainian airplane to France in the coming few days in order to read its information,” Zarif said in a phone call with Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne. 

France’s BEA air accident investigation agency is known internationally as one of the leading agencies in the world for reading flight recorders, and black boxes have been sent there in other high profile cases of crashes.

During a meeting with the families of a number of the plane crash victims on Monday, Gholamabbas Torki, the military prosecutor for Tehran Province, said the incident was the result of human error on the part of the air defense unit’s operator, ruling out the possibility of a cyberattack or any other type of sabotage.

He said investigations carried out thus far into the incident indicate the occurrence of a number of human errors on the part of the operator who fired two missiles at the plane.

According to Press TV, he added that a mobile air defense unit was responsible for the downing, because its operator had failed to determine the direction of north correctly and, as such, identified the aircraft as a target, which was approaching Tehran from northwest.

Another error, the judicial official said, was that the operator did not wait for his superiors’ command after sending a message to the command center and fired the missile on his own decision.

“In the Ukrainian plane crash, no order was given [by military commanders to the mobile unit] to fire [at the target] and when the incident happened, all air defense units were in the position of ‘restricted fire’ rather than ‘fire at will,’” Torki said.

“The blatant mistake made here was that the operator embarked on firing [missiles] without waiting for permission.”

Concerning the cause of the incident, the military prosecutor said the possibility of harmful interference, including laser beam and electromagnetic radiation, on the Ukrainian plane has been ruled out, and the initial expert explanation so far indicates that there was no explosion at the time of the crash.

Underlining that no evidence of cyber and any other form of electronic attack, external disturbances in defense and missile systems, and infiltration of systems or networks [by possible hackers] has so far been found, Torki said, “We have not found any evidence of a possible act of sabotage and espionage on the aircraft.”

“The traces of missile fragments are obvious on the fuselage. The plane exploded when it hit the ground and its parts were scattered within a large radius from the crash site, which caused us problems in terms of collecting the parts and preserving the scene.”

The judicial official said, “On the same night (January 8) a number of people who were manning the air defense system and their superiors were summoned as defendants, and an extensive investigation was carried out that night following which one of the defendants was arrested.”

“In the investigation process, five other people were indicted as defendants, who were arrested on the court's order. Then three of the defendants were released on bail after conducting appropriate investigations. Currently, three people are in custody.”

NA/PA

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