The judge in the case of the Venezuelan-Iranian plane detained in Argentina amid an investigation into possible links with international terrorism released 12 from the 19 crew members who have been in the country since the beginning of June.
On the other hand, according to the court decision to which Agência Efe had access, the judge decided to keep the other seven in Argentina. Of the 19 crew members of the aircraft stranded at Ezeiza International Airport for almost two months, five are Iranian and 14 Venezuelan.
Federal judge Federico Villena revoked the ban on the departure of the Iranian Mahdi Mouseli and the Venezuelans Victoria Valdiviezo Marval, Cornelio Trujillo Candor, Vicente Raga Tenias, José Ramírez Martínez, Zeus Rojas Velásquez, Jesús Landaeta Oraa, Armando Marcano Estreso, Ricardo Rendon Oropeza, Albert Gines Pérez, Ángel Marín Ovalles and Nelson Coello.
The released crew will have to fix an address and present themselves once a month – in person or virtually – to the Argentine Embassies in Iran and Venezuela .
The judge maintained the ban on leaving the Iranians Gholamreza Ghasemi, Abdolbaset Mohammadi, Mohammad Khosraviaragh and Saeid Vaki Zadeh and the Venezuelans Mario Arraga Urdaneta, Víctor Pérez Gómez and José García Contreras from leaving the country.
The aircraft held in Argentina is a cargo plane Boeing 747 Dreamliner that belonged to the Iranian company Mahan Air and is currently owned by Emtrasur, a subsidiary of the Venezuelan Consortium of Aeronautical Industries and Air Services (Conviasa). Both companies were sanctioned by the US Department of the Treasury.
The aircraft entered Argentina on June 6 from Mexico, with a stopover in Venezuela, supposedly to transport cargo for an automobile company, and two days later it took off towards Uruguay to refuel, but landed again at Ezeiza airport, in the Buenos Aires region, because the neighboring country did not allow it to land.
The plane was not refueled by oil companies Argentines for fear of US sanctions. Later, in June, it was informed that the Argentine government had ordered the retention of the aircraft.
A few days later, a judge banned the members of the crew to leave the country so that what they were doing in Buenos Aires could be investigated.
One of the crew members who will remain in Argentina is one of the pilots, Gholamreza Gashemi, who has the same name as a member of the Quds Forces – a division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – defined by the United States as one of the instructors of the terrorist group Hezbollah.
The case generated strong controversy in Argentina, a country that suffered two terrorist attacks in years 90 – against Associação Mutual Israelita Argentina (Amia) and against the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires -, whose authorship the country’s Justice attributed to Hezbollah and members of the Iranian government.