By Ahmad Rafat
On Nov. 21, a military court in Iran opened trial proceedings against 10 junior officers in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) for their alleged roles in the “unintentional” downing of the Ukrainian commercial flight PS752, which was shot down by the IRGC air-defense missile system near Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport on Jan. 8, killing all 176 people on board.
Authorities have not released the names of the officers, indicating only that they were charged with “involuntary manslaughter” and “gross negligence.” No senior IRGC commander or military officer has been charged so far.
Speaking to Kayhan Life, Azimat Ajdari, the sister of Ghanimat Ajdari, who perished in the Ukrainian plane crash, said: “The family of those who lost their lives in the incident do not recognize this court and the army prosecutor’s charges. We will stage protests throughout this show trial, holding up pictures of our loved ones and voicing our objections.”
Ms. Ajdari, who currently lives in London, added: “We do not hold the 10 anonymous defendants responsible, and any role they might have played in this crime would have been insignificant. The real perpetrators of this crime are not being tried.”
Ajdari alleged that the “true culprits of the crime” included the commander of the IRGC’s Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the IRGC Major General Hossein Salami, the Chief of Staff for the Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Bagher, the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Rear Admiral Upper Half Ali Shamkhani, and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Families of the victims of flight PS752 staged a protest outside the court, reportedly shouting “death to Khamenei” and “death to the IRGC.”
“The court aims to justify this crime by framing it as an unintentional act,” Azimat Ajdari told Kayhan Life. “Families do not accept this explanation. We will not accept a whitewash verdict, reducing the charges to gross negligence and involuntary manslaughter. We want to see those who took away our loved ones on trial.”
The victims’ families have always been in pursuit of truth and justice in this case.
“If the Islamic Republic had not lied for an entire year and instead sought the truth as it claimed, then it would not have held the black boxes [flight recorder] for so long or clear the crash site so quickly,” Ajdari argued.
Ajdari said seeking justice in the Islamic Republic was a “bitter and ridiculous reality.”
As the military trial was underway in Iran, families of the crash victims living in Canada released a report on Nov. 24 that included analysis by several international experts. The 217-page report, prepared by the Fact-Finding Committee of the Association of Families of Flight PS752 and titled “The Lonely Flight for Justice: An Investigative Analysis of the Downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752”, can be found through the following link:
The report alleges that the downing of the commercial flight PS752 by two cruise missiles was a deliberate act.
“The intentional act of keeping Iranian airspace open, the technical capabilities of the Tor-M1 [missile] system and Iran’s integrated defense network in detecting hostile targets, the positioning of the Tor-M1 system near Tehran’s international airport, the systematic concealment of the root cause of the crash, the destruction of existing evidence, and Iran’s misleading reports, all show that the downing of Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 was deliberate,” the report said.
Last week, the Islamic Republic released a statement claiming that it had handed all of its findings over to the Ukrainian delegation and had answered all questions “within the confines of rule and regulations.” However, after returning to the capital Kyiv, the Ukrainian delegation described the report by the Islamic Republic as “deceptive,” adding that most of their questions remained unanswered.
In another statement, the Islamic Republic said it would give money to the victims’ families not as an obligation but as a gesture of “goodwill” and “kindness.” The statement did not mention words such as “damages” or “indemnities.”
“Several members of the IRGC visited my father’s house today, offering him financial compensation,” Azimat Ajdari tweeted. “My message to them is to go to hell. We would give everything to see Ghanimat smile once more, but we will not accept money for her blood.”