Federal judge Federico Villena authorized the departure of Argentina from the last five crew of the Venezuelan-Iranian plane held under judicial investigation for possible links with international terrorism, as confirmed by himself this Friday.
«I had to make a decision, because the Federal Chamber of La Plata (province of Buenos Aires) gave me a certain term to resolve the situation and I didn’t have enough evidence how to process them. I had to dictate the lack of merit,” Villena told EFE.
The magistrate considered that there was not enough evidence to prosecute the crew members of the Emtrasur plane for the crime of financing terrorist activities.
The pilot Gholamreza Ghasemi, the flight captain Abdolbaset Mohammadi, the reinforcement engineer Saeid Valizadeh and the executives of the Venezuelan company Víctor Manuel Pérez and Mario Arraga Urdaneta benefited from this measure.
These five crew members were the last of a list of 19 people-5 Iranians and 14 Venezuelans- who entered Argentina on June 6 on the Boeing 747-300 aircraft with registration YV3531.
The first dozen released arrived in Venezuela on September 16 and two more on September 30 amid requests for the rest to leave Argentina.
The plane belonged to the Iranian company Mahan Air and is currently in the hands of Emtrasur, a subsidiary of the Venezuelan Consortium of Aeronautical Industries and Air Services (Conviasa), both sanctioned by the United States Department of the Treasury.
“We have elements that allow us to suspect that there is financing, but not enough to to issue a prosecution. That is why the ‘lack of merit’, which is an intermediate decision, “added the judge.
The aircraft arrived in Argentina from Mexico after trying to go to Uruguay to refuel, but had to return because the neighboring country did not allow its landing.
“We held them for the reasonable time that is established in a rule of law. The investigation was a success from our perspective and from the perspective of the international community, although the investigation is not closed and continues, “said the magistrate.
This case generated a strong stir in Argentina, a country that suffered two terrorist attacks in the 1990s -against the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) and against the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires- and the local Justice points out the Hezbollah group and members of the then Iranian Government as responsible