Iran Should be Charged for Shooting Down Ukrainian Plane, UN Expert Says

A United Nations (UN) expert has accused Iran of lying about shooting down a Ukrainian commercial airplane last year and has said that several high-level Iranian officials should be charged over the incident.

UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions said in a 45-page letter to Iran that the country’s explanation of how it shot down the plane on January 8, 2020 was full of inconsistencies.

“The inconsistencies in the official explanations seem designed to create a maximum of confusion and a minimum of clarity. They seem contrived to mislead and bewilder,” Callamard wrote in the letter delivered last Dec. 24 and was made public on Feb. 23, following a UN policy on communications to its States which required the letter to be confidential for 60 days.

“Why does Iran lie? Because there is no other term to use,” Callamard told reporters.

Callamard told British newspaper The Guardian that Iran had an “extraordinarily incompetent succession of actions” that should be described as “criminal and reckless” in a criminal court.

Callamard also said in the letter that Iran has provided no information on the identities of the people who were investigated and detained over the incident.

“In terms of accountability, unfortunately we cannot expect Iran to charge those at the top or even the middle of the chain of command, and there are many high-level officials who should be charged,” Callamard said, according to The Guardian.

Iran had explained that, at the time of high tensions with the United States, its air defense crew mistook the plane for a U.S. missile.

However, Callamard concluded, “On the basis of international law, error is not a defense for Iran.”

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