Iran has made arrests in the case of the Ukrainian Boeing disaster, which was mistakenly shot down by an Iranian missile near Tehran, killing 176 passengers on board, justice spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili announced on Tuesday. These are the first arrests announced by Tehran since the January 8 crash of the plane, which was carrying mostly Iranians and Canadians, hours after Iranian missile strikes against military bases in Iraq in retaliation five days earlier to the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani. “A large investigation has been carried out and people have been arrested,” said Esmaili, who spoke at a televised press conference. He did not give the number of people arrested.
After denying the hypothesis that the Ukrainian International Airlines plane could have been shot down by an Iranian missile, the Iranian armed forces acknowledged Saturday their responsibility in this drama, citing “human error”.
Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh, commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ aerospace branch, took on “full responsibility” on Saturday, saying the soldier in charge had acted independently. “Many investigations have been carried out (…) and each evening our judicial team was looking for documents,” said Esmaili on Tuesday.
President Hassan Rohani assured earlier Monday that his country should “punish” all those responsible for the tragedy.
“The justice system must form a special tribunal with high-ranking judges and dozens of experts (…) the whole world will watch,” he said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau assured Monday that justice will be “done”, and all the countries affected by the tragedy – Canada, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Sweden and Afghanistan – are putting pressure for Iran to conduct a transparent investigation.
The announcement of the responsibility of the armed forces created a shock in Iran and a wave of indignation.
On Monday, according to videos circulating on social networks, Iranians took to the streets for the third consecutive day and seemed to chant slogans against the authorities.
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