Iran’s judiciary said arrests have been made over the accidental shootdown of a Ukrainian plane which killed 176 people on board. It is not yet clear how many people, nor who has been detained over the tragedy, which occurred just moments after the flight took off from Tehran last Wednesday. Judiciary spokesman, Gholamhossein Esmaili, said on Tuesday: ‘Extensive investigations have taken place and some individuals are arrested.’ The announcement came as President Hassan Rouhani called for a special court to be set up to probe the ‘painful and unforgivable’ mistake, after Iran’s Revolutionary Guard admitted it shot down the jetliner. Iran had initially dismissed allegations that a missile had struck the plane but in the face of mounting evidence, the country finally took responsibility three days after the tragedy. Protesters gather in front of Amir Kabir University in Tehran to remember victims of a Ukrainian airplane shot down by an Iranian missile (Picture: AP) Rescue teams work amidst debris after a Ukrainian plane carrying 176 passengers crashed near Imam Khomeini airport (Picture: AFP) A violent uproar immediately ensued with protesters taking to the streets to call out officials for apparently attempting to cover-up their actions. The president said in a speech televised in Iran on Tuesday: ‘The judiciary should form a special court with a ranking judge and dozens of experts. ‘This is not an ordinary case. The entire world will be watching this court.’ He promised his administration would pursue the case ‘by all means’, adding that the ‘responsibility falls on more than just one person’ and those found culpable ‘should be punished’. President Rouhani said the Government’s admission that Iranian forces were behind the crash was ‘the first good step’ and said he wants ‘that this issue is expressed honestly’. Footage showed police firing tear gas into a crowd near Azadi, or Freedom, Square as police broke up a demonstration in Tehran, Iran (Picture: AP) The president said all those culpable must be punished (Picture: Anadolu/Getty) The plane was en route to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv when it was struck down by the missile. On board were 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 an infant. Officials shot down the plane while it was bracing for possible US retaliation, after Iran had launched a ballistic missile attack on two military bases housing American troops in Iraq. The attack had been carried out to avenge President Donald Trump’s killing of Revolutionary Guard General Qasem Soleimani in an American airstrike in Baghdad. Although no one was hurt in the US military base attack, Iran was preparing for the worst when it devastatingly shot down the plane by accident. People gather for a candlelight vigil to remember the victims of the crash, at the gate of Amri Kabir University that some of the victims of the crash were former students of (Picture: AP) People stand near the wreckage after a Ukrainian plane (Picture: AFP) General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Guard’s aerospace division, said when he learned about the downing of the plane: ‘I wished I was dead.’ The incident raised questions about why Iran did not shut down its international airport or airspace the day it was bracing for US military retaliation. The shootdown and the lack of transparency around it has reignited anger in Iran over the country’s leadership, as online videos appeared to show security forces firing live ammunition and tear gas to disperse protests in the streets. On Tuesday, Iran’s judiciary said 30 people had been arrested in the protests but some were released – it did not elaborate further. Further anti-UK protests broke out after Iranian authorities briefly arrested British Ambassador Rob Macaire on Saturday evening.
Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2020/01/14/suspects-arrested-iran-accidentally-shooting-plane-killed-176-people-12054232/?ito=cbshare
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetroUK | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/