Iran judiciary says arrests made over airliner downing

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jan 14 2020 06:00 PM

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran announced Tuesday that arrests have been made over the shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger jet in Tehran last week, without specifying how many.

"Extensive investigations have been carried out and some people have been arrested," judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili told a televised news conference.

The arrests are the first to have been announced since the Ukraine International Airlines plane was brought down by a missile shortly after takeoff from Tehran before dawn on Wednesday.

After initially denying Western claims it was shot down, Iran came clean on Saturday and admitted the plane had been brought down by a missile.

The Revolutionary Guards' aerospace commander Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh accepted full responsibility, but said the missile operator who opened fire had been acting independently.

"Numerous investigations have been conducted in this area and every night our judicial team has been seeking documents until midnight," said Esmaili.

"Suggestions have been made so far but we have to weigh all the dimensions to get to the truth," the judiciary spokesman added.

His statement came shortly after President Hassan Rouhani said everyone responsible for the tragedy must be punished for the incident that has sparked angry protests in Iranian cities.

The air disaster claimed the lives of all 176 passengers and crew on board, most of them Iranians and Canadians.