Iran said Tuesday it has arrested an undisclosed number of people for their role in downing a Ukrainian passenger plan in Tehran, killing all 176 aboard. The country has also detained 30 people involved in protests that have swept the nation for four days since the military belatedly admitted its error.
While Tehran had admitted it shot down the plane in an “unforgivable error” amid heightened tensions with the United States, it did not disclose how many and who all have been arrested for the tragic mishap. Meanwhile, anti-government protests within the country entered its fourth day today with demonstrators opposing Iran’s system of theocratic rule.
Here are the top developments today
• Days after it admitted shooting down the Ukraine International Airlines flight 752, killing all 176 people on board, Iran Tuesday said it has arrested suspects. Iran’s judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said some of those accused of having a role in the plane disaster had already been arrested. He did not identify the suspects or say how many had been held.
• Esmaili said the country’s judiciary has tolerance towards peaceful protests after rallies erupted over the passenger plane crash. Iran’s judiciary said that 30 people had been detained in the protests, and that some were released, without elaborating further. The authorities killed hundreds of demonstrators in a crackdown two months ago, in what was probably the worst anti-government unrest since the revolution. In recent days, demonstrators have chanted “Clerics get lost!” and other slogans against Iran’s system of theocratic rule. “Death to Khamenei,” others shouted, referring to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, supreme leader for more than 30 years.
• President Hassan Rouhani has promised a thorough investigation into the “unforgiveable error” of shooting down the plane. In a television address Tuesday, Rouhani apologized again. “Iranian armed forces admitting their mistake is a good first step,” he said, adding that those responsible would be punished and the government would be accountable to Iranians and nations who lost citizens. He 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,” the President said. “This is not an ordinary case. The entire world will be watching this court.”
• Five of the countries whose citizens were killed in the plane crash will meet on Thursday to discuss ways, “including legal” to deal with the crash. “We will meet in person in London to discuss the ways, including legal, (for) how we are following this up,” Ukraine’s foreign minister Vadym Prystaiko said.
• Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose nation had at least 57 citizens on the flight, told Global News TV that victims would still be alive and at home with their families now if there had been no tensions in the region.
• The jet had crashed hours after Iran fired ballistic missiles at US targets in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the leader of a powerful branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, and was bracing for a possible US response.
(Inputs from Reuters)