Iran’s judiciary on Tuesday said arrests have been made over the shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger jetliner by an Iranian surface to air missile, killing all 176 people aboard.
“Extensive investigations have taken place and some individuals are arrested,” the judiciary spokesperson, Gholamhossein Esmaili, said on Tuesday. He was quoted by Iranian state media, but did not say how many individuals have been detained or name them.
Earlier on Tuesday, Iran’s president had called for a special court to be set up to probe the shootdown of the Ukrainian plane.
Iran, which initially rejected assertions that a missile had brought down the Ukrainian jetliner, admitted in the wake of mounting international pressure that its Revolutionary Guard shot down the Ukrainian plane, accidentally.
“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 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.
Rouhani called the government’s admission that Iranian forces shot down the plane the “first good step”.
The jetliner, en route to Kiev, was carrying 167 passengers and nine crew members. Iran shot down the plane when it was preparing for a possible US retaliation after Tehran ordered missile strikes on US bases in Iraq.