Iran arrests several people over missile strike on passenger plane

Iran arrests several people over missile strike that brought down Ukrainian passenger jet as Hassan Rouhani vows to punish those responsible

  • Iranian judiciary spokesman said ‘some individuals’ were arrested over the crash
  • President Hassan Rouhani said the shoot-down was an ‘unforgivable error’ 
  • The regime’s initial denials and subsequent admission have sparked protests 

Iran said today it has arrested several people over the erroneous missile strike which brought down a passenger jet last week. 

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said ‘some individuals’ had been detained after ‘extensive investigations’, without saying how many. 

President Hassan Rouhani has vowed to punish those responsible as he called the shoot-down of the Boeing 737 an ‘unforgivable error’. 

The regime has been forced on to the back foot by the crash after its initial denials and subsequent admission prompted a fresh wave of protests. 

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani (pictured) has vowed to punish those responsible as he called the shoot-down of the Boeing 737 an ‘unforgivable error’

Ukraine says the pilots were killed immediately when the Iranian missile struck the plane just below the cockpit (the wreckage is pictured at the crash site near Tehran)

Rouhani today called for a special court to be set up to probe the ‘painful and unforgivable’ mistake which killed 176 people including dozens of Iranians. 

The president said ‘one person cannot be solely responsible for the plane crash’ as he vowed a thorough investigation into the disaster. 

‘For our people it is very important in this incident that anyone who was at fault or negligent at any level’ face justice, he said in a televised speech.

‘Iranian armed forces admitting their mistake is a good first step … We should assure people that it will not happen again.

‘Anyone who should be punished must be punished.

‘The judiciary must form a special court with high-ranking judge and dozens of experts… The whole world will be watching.’ 

Rouhani said his government was ‘accountable to Iranians and other nations who lost lives’, including Canada and Ukraine.   

An image from the flight tracker website Flightradar24 showing the path of the Ukranian International Airlines jet which crashed just over two minutes after taking off from Tehran

Bulldozers were operating at the crash site before Ukrainian investigators even arrived – sparking fears of an Iranian cover-up 

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau has demanded that Iran provide Canada with ‘full clarity’ on the airliner shootdown. 

The prime minister also said he insisted to Rouhani that Canada be allowed to participate in the investigation.

Three members of a Canadian rapid deployment team flying to Tehran will have access to the plane’s wreckage and blackboxes, Iranian officials confirmed on Monday. 

The Ukraine International Airlines jet came down near Tehran last Wednesday, just hours after Iran had fired missiles at US bases.

The cause of the crash was initially shrouded in mystery, with Iran insisting repeatedly that the plane had suffered a technical fault. 

When Western intelligence came down on the side of a missile strike, Tehran initially dismissed their allegations as ‘psychological warfare’ and a ‘big lie’. 

But Iran finally abandoned its denials on Saturday, admitting that the Revolutionary Guards had shot down the Boeing 737 by mistake. 

The Canadian prime minister, at a vigil for the victims of the plane crash, was the first world leader to say Iran had downed the passenger jet

Tehran admitted Saturday that it accidentally downed the Ukraine International Airlines plane, killing all 176 people on board on Wednesday, shortly after launching missiles at bases hosting US forces in Iraq 

Ukrainian security chief Oleksiy Danilov told the BBC that the missile had hit the plane underneath the cockpit, killing the pilots instantly.  

The death of Qassem Soleimani had initially united Iranians in mourning last week, but Iran’s changing story has sparked a resurgence of protests. 

Anti-government protests entered a third day yesterday with dozens of demonstrators chanting slogans at a Tehran university.  

The capital’s police chief claimed yesterday that the security situation in the capital was ‘fine’ despite the protests, with riot police deployed to face the protesters.  

General Hossein Rahimi denied reports that police had shot at protesters and said officers had been ordered to show ‘restraint’.  

‘The police treated the people who had gathered with patience and tolerance,’ he said before the latest protests broke out.  

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