In Iran, a military court found ten people responsible for the downing of Ukraine International's Boeing 737 on January 8, 2020 and sentenced them to prison terms. However, only lower-ranking military personnel were tried.
Exactly this circumstance is massively criticized internationally, because the commanders have not been prosecuted so far. Ali Eftekhari, the head of Iran's military court, said the case was complex and had "many technical aspects" which is why it was brought before the court-martial. According to Eftekhari, "there were a number of non-military individuals". The court sentenced 10 people to different terms of imprisonment.
"As per the verdict, there are 10 defendants and the levels in the case range from command to system user," Eftekhari added, noting that the ranks of the defendants ranged from second brigadier to third lieutenant.
The head of the court pointed out that the operator of the Tor M1 surface-to-air missile made two mistakes, namely that he failed to adjust the level of the radar connected to the system and that he did not contact another command center asked whether the target should be shot down. While the defendant stated that there had been a loss of communications, "the loss of communications has not been confirmed," Eftekhari noted, adding that he "acted and fired at his own discretion". "The diagnosis was wrong and this error is an individual and human error".
A bereaved organization sharply criticizes the verdict and describes it as a "sham verdict". It would be "pointless and unacceptable" because the commanders and thus those primarily responsible would not have been prosecuted. Also, the sessions of the military court were held behind closed doors, so it is unclear whether the convicts will ever have to go to prison or whether the regime would rather put on a kind of show.