The mother of two victims killed when Iran shot down an airliner in 2020 says the family has sued senior officials for what they call a ‘premediated act.’
In a new interview published Monday in the reformist newspaper Shargh, Zahra Majd and her husband Hossein Asadi-Lari, who lost their children when flight PS752 was shot down January 8, 2020, disclosed their family had sued Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), and Hossein Salami, commander-in-chief of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).
Iran has said the Ukrainian Airways plane was shot down because a of “human error” at a time of high alert due to a possible United States attack, leading to the civilian airliner being misidentified. The lawsuit brought against Shamkhani claims the SNSC was responsible for not closing Iran’s airspace on the day of the incident and was involved in the deliberate downing of the plane.
The IRGC Aerospace Commander Amir-Ali Hajizadeh took overall responsibility for the downing of the plane three days after the incident.
Monday’s interview came a day after the publication of the family's two other interviews with Ensaf News and the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), when the family, breaking a silence of two years, alleged the missiles were intentionally fired at the plane to prevent US retaliation against Iran for a missile attack on US bases in Iraq just hours earlier, itself in response for the US killing Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and nine others in Baghdad.
Majd told Shargh that over a month after the incident, when visiting to express condolences, a visit implying he expected the family to accept their loss with stoicism, Salami had said the incident had prevented 10 million from being killed in a war with the US, making her children martyrs.
The family believes Salami's remarks, which he asked them to keep confidential, proves the flight was downed intentionally and not through human error.
This is the first time that one of the victims' families living in Iran has made such allegations in press interviews. Mohsen Asadi-Lari is a former high-ranking health ministry official.
Majd and her husband said that for three days after January 8 they had refused to believe that the plane had been targeted by Iran’s defense forces. Majd complained that the state broadcaster (IRIB) never talked to victims' families even though they had shunned foreign media, which she alleged would distort their remarks.
But she told Shargh that she would not talk to IRIB even if asked. “They will manipulate it to get what they want even if they talk to us," she told Shargh, accusing authorities of rigidly controlling the trial and court sessions, as well as private memorial ceremonies held by families and inscriptions on victims' gravestones. "We are not free to do and talk as we want."
Majd and her husband insisted that the ten low-ranking military personnel on trial are not the real culprits. Her husband claimed the person named as the operator of the air-defense system, referred to by the initials M.KH, was an expert in the Tor-M1 surface-to-air system that shot down the plane and that it was unbelievable that he had made such an error.”
"Hajizadeh [the IRGC aerospace commander] was indicted but his prosecution was prohibited,” Majd told Shargh. “This is very important. He has been indicted but [will not be prosecuted] no matter how much we shout… We found out about this in our private meeting [with the judge presiding the trial].”