A handout picture provided by the official website of the Iranian Presidency on January 14, 2020, shows President Hassan Rouhani speaking during a meeting with farmers in Tehran. Rouhani said that everyone responsible for the accidental shooting down of a Ukrainian airliner last week must be punished.
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Iranian authorities have launched a wave of arrests for the military shootdown of a Ukrainian passenger jet with 176 people on board, and a special court will be established to investigate the disaster, Iranian leaders have announced.
The responsibility falls on more than just one person, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech on Tuesday.
Its not just the one who pressed the button. There are others, and I want this matter to be explained to people honestly. The whole world will be watching our trial.
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A spokesman for Irans judiciary, Gholamhossein Esmaili, told Iranian media that a number of people have been arrested in the past 72 hours in connection with the airplane shootdown, and extensive investigations are underway. He did not give any details.
The shootdown of the Ukrainian jet last week, with 57 Canadians among the passengers, has triggered street protests in Tehran and other Iranian cities over the past three days. Iran admitted on Saturday that its military had shot down the airplane, calling it a disastrous mistake after an air-defence operator had thought that the plane was a U.S. cruise missile.
The protestors have criticized the government for denying the military shootdown for three days after it happened, and for failing to close Iranian airports and air space at a time when Iran was firing missiles at U.S. targets and anticipating a retaliation.
The Iranian government is accountable to all nations who lost lives in the plane crash, Mr. Rouhani said in his first public remarks since the shootdown. We should assure people that it will not happen again.
He promised the establishment of a special court to investigate the shootdown, headed by a judge and staffed by dozens of experts.
He said that the United States had inflamed the atmosphere with its assassination of an Iranian commander before the shootdown of the airplane, but it was still an unforgivable error whose root causes must be investigated.
Irans state-controlled media have given prominence to comments by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said on Monday that the tensions between the United States and Iran were a factor in leading to the shootdown. I think if there were no tensions, if there was no escalation recently in the region, those Canadians would be right now home with their families, Mr. Trudeau told Global News in comments that were quickly reported in Iranian media.