Advertisement
  1. News
  2. /
  3. Nation & World

Iran announces arrests over downing of plane that killed 176

The announcement came amid an upswell of anger and protests by Iranians over the downing of the jetliner last Wednesday and apparent attempts by senior officials in Iran to cover up the cause of the crash.
In this Dec. 20, 2019, file photo, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attends a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a meeting at the prime minister's office in Tokyo.  Iran on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, acknowledged that its armed forces “unintentionally” shot down the Ukrainian jetliner that crashed earlier this week, killing all 176 aboard, after the government had repeatedly denied Western accusations that it was responsible. [CHARLY TRIBALLEAU  |  AP]
In this Dec. 20, 2019, file photo, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attends a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a meeting at the prime minister's office in Tokyo. Iran on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, acknowledged that its armed forces “unintentionally” shot down the Ukrainian jetliner that crashed earlier this week, killing all 176 aboard, after the government had repeatedly denied Western accusations that it was responsible. [CHARLY TRIBALLEAU | AP]
Published Jan. 14

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s judiciary said Tuesday arrests have been made for the accidental shootdown of a Ukrainian passenger plane that killed all 176 people on board just after takeoff from Tehran last week.

The announcement came amid an upswell of anger and protests by Iranians in recent days over the downing of the jetliner last Wednesday and apparent attempts by senior officials in Iran to cover up the cause of the crash.

Iran, which initially dismissed allegations that a missile had brought down the plane, acknowledged only on Saturday — three days after and in the face of mounting evidence — that its 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 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.

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.

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.

The shootdown and the lack of transparency around it has reignited anger in Iran at the country’s leadership. Online videos appeared to show security forces firing live ammunition and tear gas to disperse protests in the streets.

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.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. La iglesia católica de la Inmaculada Concepción tuvo fuertes daños tras el fuerte sismo del sábado 11 de enero de 2020 porque había quedado resentida de otro sismo previo en Guanica, Puerto Rico. (AP Foto/Carlos Giusti) [CARLOS GIUSTI  |  AP]
    The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake occurred at a depth of eight miles (13 kilometers) around the southern coastal town of Guayanilla, located close to the epicenters of most of the recent...
  2. President Donald Trump points to the crowd as he arrives to speak during the annual "March for Life" rally on the National Mall, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci) [EVAN VUCCI  |  AP]
    As the Democratic primary intensifies before the first contests to decide the nominee, Trump and his allies have issued a series of curiously favorable comments about Sanders.
  3. In this image from video, House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., speaks during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. [AP]
    As Democrats finished their third day before skeptical Republican senators, Trump’s legal team prepared to start his defense, expected on Saturday.
  4. In this July 30, 2019, file photo, a Super Mario figure is displayed at a showroom in Tokyo. After months of being tight-lipped, Comcast executives on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, said the fourth park at Universal Orlando would be based on characters from Nintendo. [KOJI SASAHARA  |  AP]
    Universal Studios is building theme parks based on Nintendo video games across the world. Orlando is set to get its Super Nintendo World in 2023.
  5. People climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge stop under flags flying at half-mast as mark of mourning and respect in Sydney, Australia, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020, for three U.S. crew members of an aerial water tanker that crashed Thursday while battling wildfires in Australia. [RICK RYCROFT  |  AP]
    The deaths came during an unprecedented wildfire season that has left a large swath of destruction in Australia’s southeast.
  6. In this image from video, House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., holds redacted documents as he speaks during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday. (Senate Television via AP) [AP]
    Prosecutors made an expansive case that Trump abused power like no other president in history.
  7. Health Officials in hazmat suits check body temperatures of passengers arriving from the city of Wuhan Wednesday, at the airport in Beijing, China. Nearly two decades after the disastrously-handled SARS epidemic, China’s more-open response to a new virus signals its growing confidence and a greater awareness of the pitfalls of censorship, even while the government is as authoritarian as ever. (AP Photo Emily Wang) [EMILY WANG  |  AP]
    The CDC said the risk to the U.S. public remains low but it’s likely more cases will be diagnosed in the coming days.
  8. In this Oct. 23, 2016, file photo, a New Orleans Saints helmet rests on the playing field before an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo. The Saints are going to court to keep the public from seeing hundreds of emails that allegedly show team executives doing public relations damage control for the area's Roman Catholic archdiocese to help it contain the fallout from a burgeoning sexual abuse crisis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File) [JEFF ROBERSON  |  AP]
    Saints attorneys disputed any suggestion that the team helped the church cover up crimes, calling such claims “outrageous.”
  9. Staff move bio-waste containers past the entrance of the Wuhan Medical Treatment Center, where some infected with a new virus are being treated, in Wuhan, China, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. The number of cases of a new coronavirus from Wuhan has risen over 400 in China Chinese health authorities said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Dake Kang) [DAKE KANG  |  AP]
    On the eve of the Lunar New Year, transportation was shut down in at least 13 cities home to more than 36 million people.
  10. Actress Annabella Sciorra arrives as a witness in Harvey Weinstein's  rape trial, in New York, Thursday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) [RICHARD DREW  |  AP]
    Annabella Sciorra became the first of Weinstein’s accusers to testify at the trial of the movie mogul whose downfall gave rise to the #MeToo movement.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement