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Iran Admits Shooting Down Ukrainian Plane, Arrest Over 30 People

Iran Admits Shooting Down Ukrainian Plane, Arrest Over 30 People
Iran Admits Shooting Down Ukrainian Plane, Arrest Over 30 People

Iran admits shooting down the Ukrainian passenger plane that killed all 176 passengers and crew members on board, as the Iranian Judiciary announced that some arrests have been made on those that might have been responsible for the downing of the Boeing plane.

Iran admits shooting down the Ukrainian passenger plane that had nationals of other countries onboard, just after takeoff from Tehran last week. This latest news also comes a few days after the Iranian government had denied the United States reports that the Ukrainian passenger plane was actually fired at by missiles launched by Iran and not engine failure as being reported by Tehran, in an apparent attempt by senior officials in Iran to cover-up the cause of the crash.

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. The ongoing protest in Iran is also caused by the news that the plane was shot down by Iran, thereby killing many of Iranians and others in the process.

According to the report by Associated Press, Iran admits shooting down the Ukrainian plane on Saturday, which is three days after and in the face of mounting evidence that it’s 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 probe the incident, the report added.

“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.”

“There are others, too, and I want that this issue is expressed honestly,” he said, without elaborating.

Iran shot down the plane as its forces were on alert for possible U.S. retaliation after Iran launched ballistic missiles on two military bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq. No one was hurt in that attack, which was carried out in response to the stunning killing of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani in an American airstrike in Baghdad.

While Rouhani pointed to mistakes and negligence, he also repeated the government’s line that the tragedy was ultimately rooted in U.S. aggression.

“It was the U.S. that made for an agitated environment. It was the U.S. that created an unusual situation. It was the U.S. that threatened and took our beloved (Soleimani),” he said.

Rouhani called the government’s admission that Iranian forces shot down the plane a “first good step.”

He added that Iranian experts who retrieved the Ukrainian plane’s flight recorder, the so-called black box, have sent it to France for analysis.

Iran Admits Shooting Down Ukrainian Plane, Arrest Over 30 People
Iran Admits Shooting Down Ukrainian Plane, Arrest Over 30 People(via-AP)

Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Guard’s aerospace division, said over the weekend his unit accepts full responsibility for the shootdown. He 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 on alert for U.S. military retaliation.

Also Tuesday, Iran’s judiciary said that 30 people had been detained in the protests and that some were released, without elaborating further. An Iranian film director who’d called for protests in Tehran’s Azadi, or Freedom, Square is among those released.

Iranian authorities briefly arrested British Ambassador Rob Macaire on Saturday evening. He’s said he went to a candlelight vigil to pay his respects for the victims of the Ukrainian plane shootdown and left as soon as the chanting began and it turned into a protest.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned the British ambassador on Sunday to protest what it said was his presence at an illegal protest. Britain, in turn, summoned Iran’s ambassador on Monday “to convey our strong objections” over the weekend arrest, the Associated Press had reported.

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