Iran Denies Four Cargo Planes Hijacked
The Iranian ambassador to Kazakhstan on Friday dismissed allegations that Kazakhs had hijacked four cargo planes chartered by an Iranian aviation company, said the official Iranian news agency, IRNA.
"The Kazakh government has said it had let the planes land in Taraz upon their own request," Morteza Saffari told IRNA.
"The Kazakh government has not been involved in the issue and has not withheld any help from us," he said.
"Almaty has issued permit for the planes and they can return whenever they want," he noted.
Atlas Aviation Company, a subsidiary of the Civil Aviation Organization (CAO), on Thursday confirmed that four of its cargo planes leased from Kazakhstan had been hijacked.
"Four Ilyushin-76 cargo planes, owned by this company, were hijacked by their foreign crew on June 19 en route to (the Kyrgyz capital) Bishkek from Tehran. They were taken to the city of Taraz in Kazakhstan," Atlas general manager Ali-Reza Moqadassi told IRNA.
But, Saffari noted, "None of the pilots or the crew are Kazakh. They are Uzbek, Armenian and Georgian who left the region after landing."
He cited "financial differences" between Atlas and its trade partners as the cause of the incident.
On Thursday, Moqadassi said that "even the Iranian ambassador to Almaty" had been denied enough information on the "hijackers" who, he said, were "Kazakhs."
"Kazakh aviation officials refused to comment on the illegal landing of the planes. They have also refused so far to announce formally whether they would permit the planes to return to Iran, although they have verbally indicated willingness to have the Iranian company take them back," he said.
CAO head Behzad Mazaheri also said that the terms of the lease for the planes had expired.
"Three of the planes were no longer under contract with the Iranian company, since the term of their lease had expired, and one of the four planes was 30 percent owned by an Iranian," he told IRNA – Albawaba.com