Iran says Mahan Air passengers can sue US army in its courts

Several people were injured after pilot rapidly changed altitude to avoid collision with a US jet, Iranian media said.

An Airbus A340-300 of Iranian airline Mahan Air takes off from Duesseldorf airport
Iran said Mahan Air plane passengers were 'harassed' on Friday by a US fighter jet while flying over Syria [Reuters]

Iran’s judiciary has said passengers of the country’s Mahan Air plane “harassed” by a US fighter jet over Syria can sue the “terrorist” United States military for damages in the Iranian courts.

Iranian media on Friday said several passengers on the flight heading from Tehran to Beirut were injured on Thursday after the pilot rapidly changed altitude to avoid collision with the US jet.

“All passengers on Mahan Air Flight 1152, Iranians and non-Iranian, can sue the terrorist US military – commanders, perpetrators, supervisors and deputies – in Iranian courts for moral and physical damages,” Ali Bagheri-Kani, head of the judiciary’s human rights office, was quoted as saying by the semi-official ILNA news agency.

He said complainants could also take an international legal route through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the United Nations agency that oversees international civil aviation agreements.

The US military said its F-15 was at a safe distance and the fighter was conducting a visual inspection of the airliner as it passed near the Tanf garrison in Syria, home to US forces.

The judiciary official said Iranian courts follow laws that deal with human rights violations and “adventurist and terrorist acts of the United States in the region”.

It was not clear if any passenger would sue the US military. Iran said on Friday it had lodged a complaint with the ICAO, calling the incident a “flagrant violation” of the international law.

The incident was the latest in tensions between Tehran and Washington since President Donald Trump withdrew the US in 2018 from Iran’s nuclear deal with six powers and reimposed sanctions that have battered Iran’s economy.

Footage of the inside of the airliner broadcast by Iranian state television on Friday showed a passenger lying immobile on the floor and another with a wounded nose and forehead.

A passenger with blood running down his forehead and another who had fallen to the floor were seen in the video, which also showed a jet passing through the window.

Data from the flight recorded by website showed the Mahan Air plane climbing from 34,000 feet to 34,600 feet in less than two minutes around the time of the incident, and then dropping back to 34,000 feet within a minute.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies