Iran’s judiciary announced the arrest of an unspecified number of suspects in the accidental demolition of a commercial passenger plane during a major confrontation with the United States last week.
In comments from state media, spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said Tuesday that “eExtensive investigations have been carried out and some people have been arrested. ” did not offer additional details.
On Wednesday, the downing of the Ukrainian plane, en route to Kiev from Tehran, killed 176 passengers and crew on board. IIt happened only hours after Iran launched missile attacks against US targets in Iraq in retaliation for the US assassination of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on January 3.
After days of denials, Iran admitted on Saturday that its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had shot down the plane in a “disastrous mistake”, saying that the air defenses were fired in error while on alert after the attacks on two Iraqi bases that house US troops. . The president of the United States, Donald Trump, had previously threatened to attack 52 targets within Iran if Tehran attacked US citizens or assets after the murder of Soleimani.
Iran’s recognition of the demolition and lack of transparency around it triggered protests in Tehran and elsewhere, with hundreds of people who took to the streets to direct their anger towards senior officials, including supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in the middle of accusations of being deceived.
Videos posted on social networks that could not be verified immediately It seemed to show security forces firing real ammunition and tear gas to disperse protesters. The government has denied a cover-up and the police rejected reports that it had opened fire on protesters.
Rouhani calls special court
In a televised speech on Tuesday, Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani promised a thorough investigation into the “unforgivable mistake” of shooting down the plane, the latest in a series of apologies from a leadership that dealt with public anger.
Rouhani called for a special court to be established with a high-ranking judge and dozens of experts to investigate the “tragic event.”
“This is not an ordinary case. The entire world will be observing this court,” Rouhani said, adding that all those responsible for the accident should be punished.
“For our people, it is very important in this incident that whoever is guilty or negligent at any level” faces justice, Rouhani said. “Anyone who should be punished should be punished.”
The president called the government’s admission that Iranian forces shot down the plane as the “first good step.”
“We must assure people that it will not happen again,” Rouhani said, adding that his government was “responsible to the Iranians and other nations that lost their lives in the plane crash.”
Assed Baig of Al Jazeera, reporting from Tehran, He said Rouhani’s comments were “a defining moment in this country because people are not used to military and state institutions taking responsibility for the state and accepting that they are wrong.”
Baig added that Rouhani mentioned that the plane’s demolition was not the fault of a single person operating the air defense system, but that there were many problems involved.
“He also said that, ultimately, the United States is responsible for the highest level of tension, referring again to Trump’s threat to attack 52 sites, but added that this is not an excuse for the military and other people,” Baig said. .
Most of the people aboard the flight were Iranians or dual citizens. Canada, Ukraine, Britain and other nations that had citizens on the plane have scheduled a meeting on Thursday in London to consider legal action against Tehran.
Al Jazeera and news agencies