An appeals court on Tuesday authorised 12 crew-members from the Venezuelan plane grounded in Buenos Aires since June, a case that also involves the United States and Iran, to leave the country.
The Boeing 747 cargo plane, owned by Venezuelan company Emtrasur, has been held at Ezeiza International Airport on the outskirts of the capital since it arrived on June 8 from Mexico with a shipment of auto parts, after having tried unsuccessfully to enter Uruguay.
Judge Federico Villena ordered the plane be detained in light of an investigation into the crew of 14 Venezuelans and five Iranians, who have been held in Argentina for three months.
Last month, he gave the green light for 11 Venezuelans and one Iranian to leave the country.
On Tuesday, Federal Court of Appeals of La Plata confirmed the decision Tuesday, although one resort remains for those opposition the move – it can still be appealed to the Supreme Court in Buenos Aires Province.
The court also gave Judge Villena 10 more days to conclude "all pending proceedings, the definition of the procedural situation and the restrictions imposed on persons and things," according to the Télam state news agency.
For now, the ban on leaving the country remains in place for the other seven crew-members, which includes Iranian nationals Gholamrez Ghasemi, Mohammad Khosraviaragh, Saeid Vali Zadeh and Abdolbaset Mohamamadi, as well as Venezuelans Mario Arraga, Víctor Pérez Gómez and José García Contreras.
The Paraguayan intelligence service has linked Ghasemi to the Al Quds Force, a branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards classified as a terrorist organisation by the United States.
The plane first entered Argentina on June 6 from Mexico but, unable to refuel in Buenos Aires due to US sanctions on Venezuela, it left for Montevideo on June 8. But the Uruguayan authorities refused it access, and it flew back to Argentina.
An Argentine judge then granted a request from the United States to seize the plane on the basis that laws were broken when Iran – also under US sanctions – sold it to Venezuela.
The aircraft belongs to Emtrasur, a subsidiary of the Venezuelan company Conviasa, which is under sanctions from the US Treasury Department. It was bought a year ago from the Iranian airline Mahan Air.
Argentina considers the presence of Iranian travellers to be particularly sensitive because of Interpol red alerts issued against former Iranian leaders for their alleged role in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community centre, which left 85 dead and some 300 wounded.
Before travelling to Argentina, the plane had been in Paraguay in mid-May after a trip to the island of Aruba with a cargo of cigarettes.