Canada-led group criticises Iran jailing of troops for downing Ukraine jet
LONDON - Iran's sentencing of 10 alleged perpetrators in the downing of a Ukrainian airliner was criticised Tuesday by Canada and other countries whose citizens were aboard the flight, saying the "sham trials" lacked impartiality and transparency.
Iranian forces shot down Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 shortly after its takeoff from Tehran on January 8, 2020, killing all 176 people on board. Most were Iranians and Canadians, including many dual nationals.
Tehran on Sunday sentenced 10 members of the armed forces, including a commander, to prison after finding them guilty of involvement in the plane's downing.
But in a joint statement, a coordination group representing Canada, Sweden, the UK and Ukraine said the verdicts "must not distract the world from Iran's failure to meet its international obligations and take responsibility for its actions".
"Neither the trials nor the verdicts announced this week brings truth or justice to the families of the victims, as the entire process -- starting with Iran's biased investigation into the downing -- lacked the necessary impartiality and transparency," it added.
The statement noted that the families of the 176 victims were "still waiting for the justice they deserve".
"We continue to stand in solidarity with the families and loved ones of the victims of the downing of Flight PS752 and will not rest until justice has been served," it concluded.
Three days after the Kyiv-bound plane was shot down, the Iranian armed forces admitted there had been a "mistake".
Tensions between Iran and the United States had been soaring at the time the airliner was shot down.
The Iranian judiciary's Mizan Online website reported Sunday that the commander received the heaviest penalty of 10 years in prison for having defied orders in shooting down the plane.
Nine other personnel were sentenced to between one and three years, it reported.
The commander of a Tor-M1 surface-to-air missile system "fired two missiles" at the airliner "contrary to orders" and without obtaining authorisation, Mizan said.
It did not identify any of the accused.
"Given the extent of the effects and consequences of this action, the main defendant was sentenced to the maximum penalty," Mizan Online added, without giving further details. - AFP