- At least 13 people sentenced to prison
Iranian courts have sentenced at least 13 people to prison for allegedly protesting the deadly attack by Iranian military forces on a Ukrainian passenger plane and denying the government primary responsibility, said Human Rights Watch on Friday late.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards fired on a Ukrainian passenger plane on Jan 8, killing 176 passengers and crew. Following initial denials on Jan 11, the General Staff of the Armed Forces acknowledged that the Revolutionary Guards had mistakenly shot at a passenger plane after Iran’s retaliatory attacks on a US military base in Iraq. Protests then erupted across the country.
“Iranian officials are following the usual way of escaping responsibility,” said Michael Page, deputy director of the Middle East Observatory for Human Rights. “At the same time, refusing to provide details about the investigation into this heinous mistake, judicial authorities are wasting the lives of those who protested against the loss of 176 lives,” he added.
On April 26, the Zaytoun news website published a picture of a verdict in which the Amol Revolutionary Court in Mazandaran province charged 11 people with “propaganda against the regime” and “slogans against the Islamic Republic of Iran” and “taking photos and videos” during the ceremony. The candlelight vigil for the victims of the plane crash and subsequent protests has sentenced him to eight months in prison.
On January 14, Iranian officials pledged to investigate the attack, but have not provided details. They have also barred other affected countries from accessing key evidence. On March 11, the head of Iran’s delegation to the International Civil Aviation Organization told Reuters that Iran had “agreed to send black boxes of the downed plane to Kiev for review,” but Iran has not yet delivered them.
Shukrallah Bahrami, head of the Armed Forces Judiciary, denied the allegations after a member of parliament said on April 6 that “the military has done its job well” and “there will be no reprimand or arrest.” One person is still in custody.
On several occasions, officials in Canada, most of whom were victims, and other countries that had passengers among the passengers have called on Iran to cooperate with multilateral schemes. The victims’ families have said they are concerned that the Coronavirus pandemic is slowing any move toward justice for their loved ones.
“Instead of pursuing those who have exercised their right to freedom of expression and assembly, Iranian officials should conduct a transparent investigation and cooperate with international institutions to determine what really happened in this tragedy,” Page said.
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