Iran’s judiciary on Tuesday said arrests have been made over the downing last week of a Ukrainian passenger by Iranian forces just after takeoff from Tehran, killing all 176 people aboard.
“Extensive investigations have taken place and some individuals are arrested,” the judiciary spokesperson, Gholam Hossein Esmaili, said on Tuesday. However the number of arrests made are not disclosed as of yet.
The Revolutionary Guards’ aerospace commander Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh accepted full responsibility but said the missile operator who opened fire had been acting independently.
“Numerous investigations have been conducted in this area and every night our judicial team has been seeking documents until midnight,” said Esmaili, adding: “Suggestions have been made so far but we have to weigh all the dimensions to get to the truth.”
Iran, which initially dismissed allegations that a missile had brought down the jetliner, acknowledged that its Revolutionary Guard had shot down the Ukrainian plane by mistake.
“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 on Tuesday. “This is not an ordinary case. The entire the 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.”
“There are others, too, and I want that this issue is expressed honestly,” he said.
The plane, en route to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, was carrying 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.
Iran shot down the plane when it was bracing for possible US retaliation for a ballistic missile attack on two military bases housing US troops in Iraq. No one was hurt in that attack, which was carried out to avenge the stunning killing of Revolutionary Guard General Qasem Soleimani in an American airstrike in Baghdad.
Iran first denied any allegations of shooting down the Ukrainian plane however had to begrudgingly acknowledge as the evidence against them kept on mounting.
The “mistake” as the Iranian President calls it, got a lot of backlash from around the world. It changed the entire narrative from a country grieving for its lost hero to a country that killed 176 innocent people.
People in Iran have taken to streets and are protesting against the country’s leadership. So, seeing the arrests in the light of these events, there’s no doubt that the leadership is trying to make amends and save face.
Let us know in the comments down below what you think. Was it really a mistake and an attempt by an armatures or was it a full planned move that just went wrong?