Iran says passengers can sue US for endangering flight

Two US fighter jets flew dangerously close to a Mahan Air plane on July 23, forcing the pilot to take emergency action and causing injuries to some passengers. PHOTOS: AFP

TEHERAN (AFP) - Iran's judiciary on Saturday (July 25) told passengers aboard an Iranian commercial airliner that the US said was intercepted by its warplanes that they can sue Washington for endangering their lives.

Two US fighter jets flew dangerously close to the Mahan Air plane over war-torn Syria on Thursday, according to Iranian authorities, forcing the pilot to take emergency action and causing injuries to some passengers.

US Central Command (Centcom) insisted in a statement that it was a "professional intercept... conducted in accordance with international standards."

The incident was the latest between arch-foes Teheran and Washington since US President Donald Trump in 2018 walked out of a multilateral nuclear accord with Iran and imposed punishing sanctions.

"Air routes are considered corridors for civilian aircraft, therefore the very act of terrorist Centcom's fighters entering this corridor means endangering international air transit," Iran's deputy judiciary head Ali Bagheri-Kani was quoted as saying by the body's Mizan Online website.

"This was a clear violation of international laws and a clear threat to the right of life of citizens so it can be followed up on in international bodies," he added.

Mr Bagheri-Kani said all the passengers who were on board the flight from Teheran to Beirut could file for legal action against "the terrorist US army command and others involved" in Iranian courts "for moral and physical damage".

Legal action could also be pursued through the International Civil Aviation Organisation and the International Court of Justice, he said.

Iran announced on Friday that it had lodged a complaint with the ICAO and plans to submit a protest letter to the UN Security Council and secretary general.

The incident comes nearly a month after Iran called on Interpol to help arrest Mr Trump and 35 other US officials for the January killing of its top general Qasem Soleimani in a drone strike in Iraq.

The Islamic republic retaliated days after the killing by firing a barrage of missiles at US troops stationed in Iraq, but Mr Trump opted against responding militarily to that move.

While the attack on the western Iraqi base of Ain Al-Asad left no US soldiers dead, dozens suffered brain trauma.

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