An Argentine judge has ordered the release of the cargo of a Venezuelan plane that has been detained in Argentina since June 6.
On Monday, July 25, the federal judge of Lomas de Zamora, Federico Villena, ordered the Argentine Customs to allow all cargo and merchandise to be released from the detained Boeing 747-300, loaded with parts of cars for automobile companies in Argentina. The plane is owned by Emtrasur, a subsidiary of the Venezuelan state airline Conviasa. Although Conviasa is on the United States list of sanctioned companies, Emtrasur has no sanction measures against it anywhere in the world.
The whole saga started when the plane, on the Buenos Aires-Montevideo-Caracas route, was denied fuel in the Ezeiza airport of Buenos Aires—fuel that was already paid for. Emtrasur then got a landing permit for the international airport in Montevideo, but that permit was revoked mid-flight, and the plane was forced to return to Ezeiza.
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Once back in Ezeiza, oil companies refused to provide fuel to the plane, using as excuse that the aircraft previously belonged to the Iranian company Mahan Air, also sanctioned by the US since 2011. Since then, the plane has remained at that airport.
A few days later, a judge ordered the seizure of passports of the crew members—five Iranians and 14 Venezuelans, so that they could not leave the country. The order came as part of a baseless case alleging that the Iranians on board have terrorist links.
In mid-June, Argentine President Alberto Fernández rejected the accusation that linked the crew members to terrorism, and added that there was “no irregularity” in relation to the plane. He also accused the Argentine right wing of manipulating the case to pressure his government.
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Despite all this, the plane remains grounded in Argentina. The judge handling the case has not yet made any decision on the fate of the aircraft, nor of the crew members.
The controversial decision of the Argentine justice system angered the government of Iran, which on July 20 summoned the chargé d’affaires of the Argentine embassy in Tehran, to convey its grievance against the restrictions imposed on the departure of Iranian crew members.
The Foreign Ministry of Iran said that the terrorism accusation against the Iranian crew members is unfounded, and denounced their detention in Argentina as a flagrant violation of human rights. It demanded that Buenos Aires should clear up the matter as soon as possible and let the Iranian citizens leave Argentina.
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
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