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Arrested in Argentina, they free 12 of 19 crew members of controversial Venezuelan airliner of Iranian origin: What’s happening now

  • Veronica Smink
  • BBC News World, Argentina

image source, Good pictures

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The plane and its crew have been in Argentina since June 6.

An Argentine judge has ordered 12 of the 19 people on board a Venezuelan state-run Emtrasur plane that was stranded in Buenos Aires in early June to leave the country.

Emtrasur officials confirmed that 11 of those freed were of Venezuelan origin (among them the only woman in the group) and one was Iranian.

The plane’s entire crew of 14 Venezuelans and five Iranians are staying at a hotel near Ezeiza International Airport as they cannot return to Venezuela on June 8.

The Boeing 747 arrived in the Argentine capital on June 6 and was scheduled to fly to Montevideo two days later, but Uruguay denied it access to its airspace, so it had to return to an Argentine airport, where it was seized after being stranded. Due to lack of fuel.

Since then, the Argentine justice system has investigated the plane, which Formerly owned by Iranian airline Mahan AirUsed to carry out suspicious activities.

The US, which imposed sanctions on Mahan Air over alleged links to the Quds Force, the powerful elite paramilitary wing of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has asked the South American country to keep the plane.

In addition to analyzing the flights made by the freighter, it also investigates why five Iranian citizens were on board the Emtrasur flight and why the crew was overstaffed.

Even though the crew members’ passports were revoked and their cell phones and computers analyzed, so far No one has been arrested or charged.

image source, Good pictures

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The airline’s staff have been living in this hotel near the Ezeiza International Airport for over three months.

On August 1, the judge in charge of the case, Federico Villena, decided to lift the ban on leaving the country for 12 of the 19 people on board, but the prosecutor appealed the move.

Now a federal appeals court has upheld the acquittal.

The court also upheld the magistrate’s decision Hold the plane at Washington’s request.

Maduro’s anger

Two months after the plane was seized, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro issued scathing statements against Argentina, accusing the country of expropriating his country’s assets.

I am very angry about the hijacking of the plane in Argentina“, he said during a speech broadcast on state television.

“Now they want to seize a plane from us in Argentina because of a court ruling in Florida. I mean, now a court in Florida or New York decides to seize a ship, plane or any asset from Venezuela. Another country.” And he can do it,” the president said.

“No sovereign domain? No respect for sovereignty? No respect for international law or do US courts rule in Argentina?” he asked.

image source, Miguel Gutierrez/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

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President Maduro accused Argentina of stealing the plane.

According to Emtrasur, the cargo plane arrived in Argentina last June Transportation of auto parts from MexicoA country he arrived in May after carrying a shipment of cigarettes from Paraguay to Aruba.

SAS Automotriz SA, the Argentinian company that received the car parts, said it had ordered the components to Fracht, an international logistics services company based in Switzerland, which had no connection to Emtrasur.

For his part, Fracht denied that he had a contract with the Venezuelan cargo airline, pointing out that he sent the shipment to Aerocharter Mexico, which subcontracted Emtrasure.

What is happening now

In addition to affirming the acquittal of 12 panel members, a federal appeals court sought to define it. “within ten days” The situation of seven others in Buenos Aires – four Iranians and three Venezuelans.

In its ruling, the court asked Judge Villena to expedite “all pending proceedings, definition of practical situation and restrictions imposed on people and goods”.

“Neither the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela nor the Islamic Republic of Iran are part of the investigation,” the court clarified.

image source, Good pictures

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The aircraft, which Emtrasur added to its fleet in January, has been operating for Iranian airline Mahan Air for 15 years.

One of the team members to continue his fourth month in the Argentine capital Iranian pilot Golamreza Qasimi AbbasParaguay’s intelligence minister accused Guts of being a member of the force.

Argentine opposition deputy Gerardo Millman denounced the “implicitly contradictory conduct” of the Emtrasur flight before the justice, pointing out that they “could be part of the .Operation of Venezuelan intelligence and Iranian intelligence on Argentine territory“.

Argentina has accused Iran of being behind the worst attack in the country’s history, the 1994 bombing of the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) headquarters that killed 85 people.

Judicial sources, anonymously cited by the Clarín newspaper, said the appeals court had given Judge Villena ten days to decide whether to file an indictment, “which could force him to close the case by presumptively dismissing the defendants”. There won’t be enough time To receive responses to requests for judicial cooperation sent to the United States, Paraguay, Uruguay and other countries.

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