| 23 February 2024, Friday |

Argentina releases 12 crew members of detained Venezuelan plane

12 out of 19 crew members of the detained Venezuelan plane were authorized to leave the country, after the plane was seized in June at the request of the US as its sale violated sanctions against Iran.

The Federal Court of Appeals of La Plata has allowed the departure of the 11 Venezuelans and one Iranian who were travelling on board the plane, which has been held at Ezeiza International Airport.

According to local daily Infobae, authorities also called on the judge to conclude the investigation into the remaining crew within 10 days.

The decision was made by judges Carlos A. Vallefín and Roberto Lemos Arias from Chamber III of the court.

Tuesday’s ruling orders the original judge overseeing the case, Judge Federico Villena, to speed up and conclude “all pending proceedings, the definition of the procedural situation and the restrictions imposed on people and things.”

According to the local daily Perfil, the seven other crew members — four Iranians and three Venezuelans — will remain prohibited from leaving the country as authorities believe their case needs to be investigated further.

One of the Iranians prevented from leaving is pilot Gholamreza Ghasemi Abbas, who reports suggest has ties to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Other reports have alleged that some of the Iranians on board have links to the Quds Force, which is part of the IRGC.

Venezuelans Víctor Pérez Gómez, Mario Arraga Urdaneta and José Garcia Contreras must also remain in the country. They belong to Emtrasur, a subsidiary of Venezuelan state-airline Conviasa.

The plane was sold to Emtrasur by an Iranian company, Mahan Air, in October 2021 in violation of US sanctions against Iran.

Argentine authorities had originally seized the plane following a request from a US court.

The Boeing 747 cargo plane had arrived in Argentina on June 8 from Mexico with a shipment of auto parts after unsuccessfully attempting to enter Uruguay.

In early August, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro accused the US of trying “to steal from us a gigantic, modern cargo airplane.”

Both Venezuela and Iran are currently under US sanctions. The two countries signed a 20-year cooperation accord in June.

  • Anadolu Agency