Argentine Federal Judge Federico Villena Monday ordered the release of the cargo brought into the country aboard the Venezuelan-Iranian Boeing 747-300 seized at the Ezeiza International airport after the nature of the flight and the size of the crew rose suspicion.
The Venezuelan-flagged aircraft allegedly belongs to Emtrasur, a cargo subsidiary of flag carrier Conviasa and formerly flew for Iran's Mahan Air. The three companies are blacklisted by US authorities for their alleged involvement in Iran-sponsored terrorism worldwide. The aircraft landed in Buenos Aires on June 8 from Queretaro International Airport with a crew of 19 (14 Venezuelans and 5 Iranians). The cargo consisted of auto parts (seats) from Mexico for a Volkswagen factory in Argentina.
Last week, the Iranian government demanded that the 5 crew members still held in Buenos Aires unable to leave the country but otherwise free to wander at will, be allowed to return to their country.
There is no reason for our citizens to be detained, they are senior civilian personnel who were cooperating in the training of Venezuelans to operate one of the airplanes that were bought from Iran, Tehran claimed.
Argentine authorities have until Wednesday to make a ruling on the issue. So far, there is not enough evidence to move on to a formal indictment, it was reported, while international rogatory letters sent to the United States, Paraguay, and Uruguay are still unanswered.
The Emtrasur plane was carrying seats for Taos vans manufactured by Volkswagen in Argentina.
The judge is expected to allow the crew to leave the country Tuesday, according to local press reports.
Jewish leaders claimed the aircraft was operating with a manifest that had irregularities. Mahan Air was sanctioned by the United States, which regard it as a logistic arm of the Quds Force, a branch of the Islamic
Revolutionary Guard Corps specialized in asymmetric warfare and military intelligence operations, including probably the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Israeli association in Buenos Aires.