TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- The shooting down of a Ukrainian airliner in Iran in January was due to human error and not an order from senior military authorities, the military prosecutor for Tehran province, Gholam-Abbas Torki, said on Monday.
There was no indication that the downing of the airliner, which killed all 176 people aboard, was due to a cyber attack on Iran’s missile or air defense systems, Torki said, adding that three people were under arrest related to the accident.
The airliner was shot down shortly after takeoff in Tehran, when Iran’s air defenses were on high alert, hours after Iran had fired missiles at a U.S. base in Iraq in retaliation for the assassination of an Iranian commander. Iran has already described the shooting down of the plans as a tragic mistake.
The operator of the air defense system should have received orders from his superiors before firing two missiles at the airliner, Torki said.
"Twenty six seconds passed between the first and second firing but unfortunately during this time the operator also did not get permission for the second firing from the network,” Torki said.
The black boxes of the airliner have been physically damaged and reading them is technically complicated, Torki said.
France’s BEA crash investigation agency said on Friday it would download the black boxes from the airliner at Iran’s request, easing a standoff over where they should be read.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Mohsen Baharvand said Sunday Iran and France have finalized the date to read the black boxes.
"The Iranian Civil Aviation
Organization (CAO) has done the necessary correspondence with the air accident investigation and analysis office of France, and agreements have almost been finalized,” he said.
"If everything goes well and no unexpected event happens, the black box will be taken to France by an aviation team from our country, and work to read and extract information from the black box will get underway on July 20, 2020,” he said.
A team of experts and technicians from the Islamic Republic of Iran will lead the research work and the reading of the information will be done under the guidance and supervision of the Iranian team, he said.
"Of course, other countries which are, one way or another, connected to this tragic event can send a representative to France as an observer,” Baharvand said.