Iran announced Tuesday that it made arrests of “some people” in connection with the demolition of its Revolutionary Guard Corp of a Ukrainian passenger plane, killing all 176 on board.
The spokesman for the judiciary, Gholamhossein Esmaili, said the arrests took place after extensive investigations, state media reported. Esmaili did not give more details.
The announcement came after the president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, called for the creation of a special tribunal to investigate the demolition of the commercial aircraft just after the takeoff from Tehran International Airport.
Authorities in Iran initially rejected accusations that one of the country’s missiles had shot down the plane, but was forced to admit it to the growing evidence. The elite of the elite Revolutionary Guard of Iran said it shot down the Ukrainian plane by mistake, as it was preparing for a possible US retaliation for an attack with ballistic missiles at two military bases that house US troops in Iraq. No one was injured in that attack.
Rouhani described the demolition of the plane by Iran as “something painful and unforgivable.” He said that the responsibility “rests with more than one person” and that the culprits “should be punished.”
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International flight 752 from Ukraine was on its way to Kiev when it was shot down by an anti-aircraft missile on January 8. The plane carried 167 passengers and nine crew members from several countries, including 82 Iranians, 57 Canadians, including many Iranians with dual citizenship – and 11 Ukrainians, according to officials. There were several children among the passengers, including a baby.
Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Aerospace Force of the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps, an elite military wing, previously acknowledged that a military officer under his command shot down the plane thinking that Iran was being attacked by US forces. Hajizadeh said that when he heard that his forces shot down the plane, he wished he was dead.
Tehran’s recognition that he was responsible for shooting down the plane has sent protesters in Iran to the streets in recent days. They are angry at the initial cover-up of the incident by the government and their perceived incompetence.
The video published on social networks and by human rights organizations seems to show the security forces making arrests and firing real ammunition while the police aggressively countered the intense protests caused by the demolition of the commercial plane.
“They lie that our enemy is the United States. Our enemy is here!” He showed a video posted Sunday by the New York-based Human Rights Center in Iran. The Iranian authorities have disputed allegations that they have been firing real ammunition.
Protests in Iran are not uncommon. Late last year, violent Anti-government demonstrations erupted in more than 100 cities and towns after Iran’s theocratic regime dramatically increased gasoline prices at a time when Iran’s consumers felt the impact of the Trump administration’s economic sanctions. President Donald Trump again imposed sanctions on Iran after withdrawing from a nuclear agreement between Iran and the world powers, a measure that has been followed by increased tensions between the two nations.
A growing number of high-profile voices in Iran have begun publicly criticizing the government, which is unusual. These voices include a state television presenter, a prominent actress and the only female Olympic medalist from Iran, Kimia Alizadeh, who announced over the weekend in an Instagram post that she had defected from the nation due to her “hypocrisy, lies and injustice”. Alizadeh said Iran had used it as a “tool.”
“They took me where they wanted,” he wrote on Instagram. “What they said, I used. Every sentence they ordered, I repeated.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked Trump on Tuesday to replace the Iranian nuclear agreement with his own new agreement.
“If we’re going to get rid of him, let’s replace him and replace him with the Trump agreement,” Johnson said of the 2015 nuclear weapons control agreement with Tehran in an interview with British television.
While the European signatories to the agreement (Britain, France, Germany) have remained in the agreement, Iran virtually abandoned the agreement, saying last week that it had eliminated the limitations imposed by the agreement on its uranium enrichment.
On Tuesday, Britain, France and Germany activated a dispute mechanism in the agreement with Iran, marking the most significant response so far to Tehran’s decision not to abide by the uranium enrichment limits set out in the agreement.
The measure brings the agreement to total collapse in the midst of growing diplomatic tensions between Western nations and Iran. On Saturday, Iran briefly arrested Britain’s ambassador to Tehran after attending a vigil for the victims of flight 752.
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