President of Iran: Special court should be created for plane crash investigation
President of Iran: Special court should be created for plane crash investigation
Iran's judiciary says arrests made over airliner downing as protests continue
14 January, 2020, 18:29
Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili told Iranian state media on Tuesday that individuals had been detained as part of "extensive investigations" into the incident.
Protests erupted in Iranian cities on January 11, after the country's military said UIA Flight 752 was shot down "unintentionally" by an antiaircraft missile shortly after it took off from Tehran's Imam Kohmeini International Airport on January 8.
Iran's air defences had been on the highest state of alert before the shooting because the country had just fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at U.S. bases in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in a USA drone strike in Baghdad.
The country's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which led a strike on USA bases in Iraq hours earlier, said it had mistaken the aircraft for a cruise missile.
The air disaster and subsequent unrest comes amid one of the biggest escalations between Tehran and Washington since the revolution four decades ago that made them into foes.
It happened just hours after Iran launched missile attacks on United States targets in Iraq in retaliation for the USA assassination of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on January 3.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday called for a special court to be set up to investigate the incident, which he called "a painful and unforgivable" mistake.
Iran's president said in his address that those responsible for shooting down the plane would be punished, describing the military's admission of its mistake "a good first step".
The air disaster claimed the lives of all 176 passengers and crew on board, a lot of them Iranians and Canadians.
A full picture of protests inside Iran is hard to obtain because of restrictions on independent media.
In recent days, demonstrators have chanted "Clerics get lost!" and other slogans against Iran's system of theocratic rule.
"Death to the dictator", other footage showed protesters shouting, directing their fury directly at Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader since 1989. Gunfire has also been heard, although police have denied shooting at protesters.
Iran's 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.
Elsewhere in the Middle East, where Iran has wielded influence through a network of allied movements and proxies, governments that include powerful Iran-sponsored armed factions have faced months of hostile demonstrations in Lebanon and Iraq.
The crash killed all 176 people on board, including 57 Canadians as well as citizens of Iran, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Germany, Sweden and the UK. "More importantly, our people need to receive an assurance that such incidents would not be repeated again", he added.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in part blamed the loss of life on heightened tensions between Iran and the US following Washington's targeted killing of a prominent Iranian general. "And what we are calling for now is a de-escalation to ensure that there are no more tragic accidents or loss of civilian life", Trudeau said at a news conference in Ottawa.
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