Prosecutor Mamedov: Iran conceals suspects in downing of Ukraine International Airlines flight
Iranian authorities have taken elaborate steps to keep the identities of suspects in the downing of a Ukraine International Airlines plane secret from the Ukrainian investigation and are attempting to convict and sentence them to mild penalties, according to Ukrainian Deputy Prosecutor General Giunduz Mamedov.
In total, 176 people were killed in the sky over Iran’s capital Tehran as one of Iranian air defense missile systems Tor-M1 downed a Ukrainian Boeing 737 passenger jet after mistaking it for a hostile target amid a sharp military crisis in the region. After several days of deliberations, Iran admitted fault and vowed to ensure a proper investigation and compensations to the victims’ families.
Ever since then, Ukrainian and Iranian authorities continue hard talks regarding the case settlement.
In an interview with media outlet Censor.NET, prosecutor Mamedov, however, asserted that Ukrainian investigators in many aspects get very little cooperation and dialogue with their Iranian counterparts.
“We learn about anything happening to their criminal inquiry from either open sources or from the Iranian party’s words,” the official said.
“For instance, it became known to us from Iranian media that 6 suspects had been arrested following an investigation by Iranian military prosecution.”
During the Ukrainian delegation’s yet another visit to Tehran, the Iranian authorities said that the 6 suspects had been indicted and that some of them had been arrested, according to Mamedov.
Moreover, Ukrainian inquiry still has no information on the suspects’ identities or their involvement in the incident.
“As far back in time as in January, we requested copies of procedural papers to confirm the guilt,” Mamedov said.
“No reply yet. The information on the suspects’ identities, personal details form data, service authorities and duties, degree of involvement and liability of each of them.”
Ukrainian investigators have not been allowed to question the 6 unidentified suspects.
“Iranian military prosecution refers to this as highly sensitive national security information. But I believe that the fact that 176 innocent people, with nationals of Ukraine, Canada, the European Union, Afghanistan, along with Iranians, were killed with the use of military-grade weaponry, can not be classified information.”
Moreover, according to Mamedov, the Iranian prosecution investigates the case on charges of involuntary manslaughter, an offense that is punished with up to 3 years of imprisonment and compensations to affected families. The Ukrainian party to the talks strongly objects to the Iranian crime qualification.
“According to the Montreal Convention, which was ratified by Ukraine and Iran, it is an unlawful and purposeful act of violence,” Mamedov said.
“As Ukraine’s Criminal Code says, it is an extremely grievous crime against our citizens and Ukraine’s interests. And it implicates criminal punishment, including regarding foreign nationals.”
Meanwhile, Tehran also strongly objects to Ukraine’s determination of the deadly incident and calls it “a very tough charge,” Mamedov also said, adding that without full access to the case’s materials, Ukraine was not entitled to stop acknowledging the possible deliberateness of the crime.
“There’s one more question coming along with everything else,” the Ukrainian prosecutor added.
“Will officials liable for the country’s military organization and their subordinates’ actions be held responsible? It’s a rhetorical question still. I haven’t heard of anyone from military leadership to be held responsible after an aviation incident.”