An Argentine judge investigating the Iranian and Venezuelan crew of a cargo plane grounded in Buenos Aires over IRGC links has allowed some of them to leave. 

Federal judge Federico Villena authorized Monday the departure of 12 of the 19 people who were onboard, ordering four Iranians and three Venezuelans to be retained in Argentina. 

He said there are still elements to be investigated regarding the Iranian pilot Gholamrez Ghasemi, designated by the Argentine intelligence service as a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. 

Registered as a Venezuelan cargo plane, the aircraft was used by the Iranian company Mahan Air and transported a group of Iranian officials, including Ghasemi, a senior executive of the airline Qeshm Fars Air, who is a member of the IRGC and a former board member of Fars Air Qeshm who stands accused of transporting weapons for Hezbollah during the civil war in Syria.

The Boeing 747 in question arrived in Argentina from Mexico on June 6, with 14 Venezuelans and five Iranians on board, before trying to fly to Uruguay two days later, where it was refused entry following a formal warning from Paraguayan intelligence.”

In July, Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benítez said one of the crew had travelled to Cuba for plastic surgery to “change his face.”

In June, Gerardo Milman, an Argentine lawmaker, told Iran International that Iranians aboard the Venezuelan plane planned “attacks on human targets.” Contrary to Iran’s claim June 13 that the plane was not owned by an Iranian company, Milman said the pilot was “a senior official of Qods (Quds) force,” Tehran’s extraterritorial intelligence and secret ops outfit listed as a terrorist organization by the United States.

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