Three Germans on board Ukranian plane that crashed in Iran: reports

Three Germans are among those believed to have died when a passenger plane bound for Kiev crashed in Iran in the early hours of Wednesday.

Three Germans on board Ukranian plane that crashed in Iran: reports
The plane crashed in the The plane crashed southwest of Tehran, killing all on board. Photo: DPA

The passenger plane – a Boeing 737-800 operated by Ukrainian International Airlines and said to be carrying around 170 people – went down less than ten minutes after taking off from Imam Khomeini international airport at 6.12am Tehran time, according to international media reports.

Vadym Prystaiko, the foreign minister of Ukraine, said on Twitter that known passengers included 82 from Iran, 63 from Canada, 10 from Sweden, four from Afghanistan, three from Germany and three from the United Kingdom, as well as two passengers and nine crew from Ukraine.

“Our embassy in Tehran is working hard to clarify the situation,” Germany's foreign office told DPA.

“The tragic accident of flight #PS752 from Tehran to Kiev fills us with deep sadness,” tweeted German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. “In these difficult hours our thoughts are with the relatives of the victims, to whom our sincere sympathy is directed.”

According to Flightradar, the aircraft was delivered new to the airline in 2016 and is powered by two CFM56 engines.

video shared by Iranian state-run news agency Isna claimed to show it burning as it fell from the sky.

“The plane crashed five minutes after taking off,” The Guardian quoted Iranian civil aviation spokesperson Reza Jafarzadeh as saying. “The pilot had no contact with the tower and didn't announce an emergency situation before the crash.”

The crash is not believed to be linked to terrorism or a rocket attack, CNN quoted the Ukrainian embassy in Iran as saying, citing preliminary information.

Halted flights

In the meantime, German airline giant Lufthansa announced Wednesday it would not fly over Iran and Iraq “until further notice”, after Tehran launched missiles at US bases in Iraq.

“We are no longer overflying Iran and Iraq until further notice,” a Lufthansa spokesman told AFP, adding that Wednesday's daily Frankfurt-Tehran flight was cancelled, while Saturday's twice-weekly service to northern Iraqi city Erbil would also not depart.

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Danish terror trial begins against Iranian separatists

Three leaders of an Iranian Arab separatist group pleaded not guilty to financing and promoting terrorism in Iran with Saudi Arabia's backing, as their trial opened in Denmark on Thursday.

Danish terror trial begins against Iranian separatists
File photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The three risk 12 years in prison if found guilty.

Aged 39 to 50, the trio are members of the separatist organisation ASMLA (Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz), which is based in Denmark and the Netherlands and which Iran considers a terrorist group.

The three, one of whom is a Danish citizen, have been held in custody in Denmark since February 2020.

Gert Dyrn, lawyer for the eldest of the three, told AFP that in his client’s opinion “what they are charged with is legitimate resistance towards an oppressive regime.”

“They are not denying receiving money from multiple sources, including Saudi Arabia, to help the movement and help them accomplish their political aim,” Dyrn said. 

His client has lived as a refugee in Denmark since 2006. 

According to the charge sheet seen by AFP, the three received around 30 million kroner (four million euros, $4.9 million) for ASMLA and its armed branch, through bank accounts in Austria and the United Arab Emirates.

The trio is also accused of spying on people and organisations in Denmark between 2012 and 2020 for Saudi intelligence.

Finally, they are also accused of promoting terrorism and “encouraging the activities of the terrorist movement Jaish Al-Adl, which has activities in Iran, by supporting them with advice, promotion, and coordinating attacks.”

The case dates back to 2018 when one of the three was the target of a foiled attack on Danish soil believed to be sponsored by the Iranian regime in retaliation for the killing of 24 people in Ahvaz, southwestern Iran, in September 2018.


Tehran formally denied the attack plan in Denmark, but a Danish court last year jailed a Norwegian-Iranian for seven years for his role in the plot. 

That attack put Danish authorities on the trail of the trio’s ASMLA activities.

Sunni Saudi Arabia is the main rival in the Middle East of Shia Iran, and Tehran regularly accuses it, along with Israel and the United States, of supporting separatist groups.

Lawyer Gert Dyrn said this was “the first case in Denmark within terror law where you have to consider who is a terrorist and who is a freedom fighter.”