Iran Makes Arrests in Downing of Plane

Rouhani calls it an 'unforgivable' mistake
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 14, 2020 6:01 AM CST
Updated Jan 14, 2020 6:48 AM CST
Iran Makes Arrests in Downing of Plane
Flowers and candles are placed in front of a memorial inside Borispil International Airport outside Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020.   (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Iran's judiciary said Tuesday that arrests have been made for the accidental downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane that killed all 176 people on board just after takeoff from Tehran last week. The announcement came amid an upswell of anger and protests by Iranians in recent days over the jetliner's shootdown last Wednesday and apparent attempts by senior officials in Iran to cover-up the cause of the crash, the AP reports. Iran, which initially dismissed allegations that a missile had brought down the plane, acknowledged only on Saturday—three days after and in the face of mounting evidence—that its Revolutionary Guard had shot down the plane by mistake as the force braced for a possible military confrontation with the United States.

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said "extensive investigations have taken place and some individuals are arrested." His statement on the judiciary's website did not say how many individuals had been detained or name them. Iran's president on Tuesday also called for a special court to be set up to investigate the incident. "The judiciary should form a special court with a ranking judge and dozens of experts," President Hassan Rouhani said in a speech televised in Iran. "This is not an ordinary case. The entire world will be watching this court." Rouhani called the incident "a painful and unforgivable" mistake and promised that his administration would pursue the case “by all means." "The responsibility falls on more than just one person," he said, adding that those found culpable "should be punished."

(Read more Iran stories.)

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