Exactly one year after the killing of 176 innocent people aboard Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752 by the Revolutionary Guards, Tehran’s military prosecutor has declared that Iran’s investigation into the disaster is now closed.
The passenger plane was shot down with two missiles fired by the IRGC over the Iranian capital in the early hours of January 8, 2020. Earlier today, dozens of family members and friends of some of the victims gathered to mourn their loved ones at the crash site and Imam Khomeini Airport, Tehran.
Prosecutor Gholamabbas Torki chose this date to announce that Iran’s formal probe into the tragedy had ended. He stated the firing of the two missiles, shortly after 6am and 23 seconds apart, had been the result of “a gross error by the commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ defense system”.
The commander, he said, had failed to correctly judge the location of the plane. After the last tactical operation, he said, “due to forgetfulness, he did not adjust the northern position of the system. For this reason he observed a dramatic shift in position of the targets on the radar screen.
“When they tried to enquire about this with the defense network, because of a lack of communication and a failure in the exchange of messages, the commander, believing there was little time to defuse the danger, personally decided to fire the missiles.”
Despite the tense atmosphere on the night of the disaster, the prosecutor surmised that the downing of Flight 752 could have been prevented. He went on to confirm that one person has been arrested in connection with the incident.
On Wednesday this week, President Hassan Rouhani said the tragedy had been the result of the “recklessness” of a group of people, and promised that the “culprits” would be tried in court.
For its part, the IRGC has doubled down. Also on Wednesday, the Guards issued a statement claiming the reason their officers had inadvertently killed 176 civilians was "inhumane adventurism and terrorist acts by the United States in the region".
Flight 752 was delayed by almost an hour in taking off from Imam Khomeini Airport. On a night where the Guards were poised to shoot missiles into the skies over Tehran, it remains unclear why an ordinary passenger plane was given permission to fly at all.