TEHRAN, Iran – Iran said Tuesday that authorities have made arrests for the accidental shootdown of a Ukrainian passenger plane, which killed all 176 people on board and set off protests in the country demanding accountability after officials initially concealed the cause of the crash.
Iran's Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said “some individuals” were arrested after “extensive investigations.” His statement on the judiciary's website did not say how many people had been detained.
Iran at first dismissed allegations that a missile had brought down the plane, but in the face of mounting evidence officials acknowledged Saturday – three days after – that its Revolutionary Guard had shot down the plane by mistake as the force braced for a possible military confrontation with the U.S.
The plane, en route from Tehran to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, was carrying 167 passengers and nine crew members from several countries, including 82 Iranians and 57 Canadians, many of whom were Iranians with dual citizenship. There were several children among the passengers, including an infant.
Iran's president on Tuesday called for a special court with “a ranking judge and dozens of experts” to be set up to probe the incident.
“The responsibility falls on more than just one person,” President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech, adding those found culpable “should be punished.”
Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Guard's aerospace division, said over the weekend his unit accepts full responsibility. He said when he learned about the downing of the plane, “I wished I was dead.”