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Iran Tells Victims' Families Senior Officials Will Not Be Prosecuted For Downed Plane

A group representing victims’ families of an airliner shot down by Iran’s military in January 2020 have announced Sunday that the military prosecutor in Tehran has issued a writ banning prosecution of high-ranking officials for the incident.

An association representing the families of victims announced on social media that some families have received an electronic message a few days ago from the military prosecutor handling the case informing them that high-ranking officials cannot be prosecuted.

Ukrainian International Airlines flight PS-752 took off in the early morning hours of January 8 from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport and minutes later was targeted by two missiles fired by the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC), killing all 176 people on board.

The incident happened just a few hours after Iran had fired ballistic missiles at US military bases in Iraq and was expecting a possible retaliation. Nevertheless, the civilian airspace was not closed.

For months Iran tried to keep the flight recorders from investigation by Ukraine and Canada that had dozens of citizens and permanent residents on board. Ukraine has repeatedly accused Tehran of not sharing and hiding information.

After more than a year, Iran announced it has indicted ten people but has not disclosed their identities or roles in the decision and action to down the airliner. Given its earlier insistence that firing missiles at the plane was a “human error”, the secrecy surrounding the indictments raises concern that only low-ranking officers or officials will be held responsible.

The message received by victims’ families said they had two days to appeal the decision. It is not clear exactly when they received the prosecutor’s message.

The victims’ association says that keeping names of those indicted and the high-ranking officials who have been left off the hook secret is against the law.

The association also says in recent days government efforts have intensified pressures on families to accept compensation and take back their legal complaints. The families have always insisted that what is important for them is “unveiling the truth” and achieving justice in the case not monetary compensation.

They stated in their social media announcement that holding “show trials” and pressuring families to accept compensation, will not change their demands for transparency and real justice.

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