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Iranian military court begins hearings on 2020 Ukrainian plane crash

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Rescue teams work amid debris after a Ukrainian plane carrying 176 passengers and crew crashed near Tehran on January 8, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

An Iranian military court has started a hearing process over the accidental downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane near the capital Tehran in 2020 that killed all 176 people aboard.

A first hearing session, chaired by Judge Ebrahim Mehranfar, was held on Sunday in the presence of the defendants, the suspects, the families of the victims and their lawyers, Mizan news agency reported.

At the beginning of the session, the judge said all the provisions of the criminal procedure had been taken into account during the investigation into the present case.

He added that all families of the victims had been notified of the session’s time and were informed that they could attend the hearings and file their complaints.

He expressed hope that the court would be able to issue a “precise, quick and serious” verdict based on a “reasonable, fair, transparent, clear-cut and strong” procedure.

Ten military personnel from various ranks were present at the session as suspects.

The 2.5-hour-long session heard statements by lawyers of the defendants and the victims’ families. There was no restriction on hearing the statements of the suspects and families of the victims as well as their lawyers.

According to the report, 103 people have filed a complaint to the Judiciary demanding “an impartial and inclusive investigation” by the military court “to discover the truth, identify the perpetrators and [consider] maximum punishment based on the type of their accountability.”

They also called for the prosecution of the “individuals and elements who disrupted [the process] of shedding light on the truth through failure to take due action after the incident happened.” The identification, prosecution and punishment of those who stole the belongings of the victims were demanded.

The timing of the next hearing will be announced later.

On January 8, 2020, the Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752, en route to Kiev while carrying mostly Iranians, crashed minutes after takeoff near the Iranian capital, killing all of the 176 passengers on board.

Hours before the tragedy, Iran had launched a retaliatory missile strike against a US-run base in western Iraq and put the country’s air defenses on high alert due to increased American aerial activity in the aftermath of the strike.

Iran acknowledged days later that the mismanagement of an air defense unit’s radar system by its operator was the key human error that led to the accident.

Tehran has promised that all those culpable in the incident would face justice and allocated 200 million euros for compensation to the victim families.

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