Iran Makes Arrests Over Downed Ukrainian Plane -- Update
By Aresu Eqbali and Sune Engel Rasmussen
Iranian authorities said they arrested a number of individuals
in connection with the shooting down of a Ukrainian airliner last
week that killed 176 people, as public outrage and calls for
The judiciary didn't say how many people were arrested or
identify those detained, but said it was in the early stages of the
process to prosecute them. "We will investigate all the aspects of
this issue," judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said in
remarks carried by state television.
He said Iran would also investigate whether "U.S. warmongering"
was to blame.
Iranian officials said at the weekend that its military shot
down the Boeing Co. 737-800 plane by mistake, after denying
responsibility for days.
The single-aisle jet operated by Ukraine International Airlines
crashed four hours after Iran had launched military strikes against
the U.S. in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of a top general,
and was on high alert for a potential U.S. response.
Protesters took to the streets at the weekend in response to the
military's admission, denouncing what they called lying and
incompetence by the country's leadership.
While the demonstrations have largely subsided, the judiciary
spokesman said Tuesday that about 30 people had been arrested in
the protests in what he called "the first phase," a reference to
the possibility of more detentions.
The shooting down of the passenger aircraft, and the initial
explanations of technical failure from Iranian authorities, have
sparked anger across Iran. At least a dozen directors, actors and
other artists said they are boycotting Iran's largest event for
contemporary art, the Fajr festival, this spring.
Police on Monday briefly detained one of Iran's most prominent
female movie directors, Rakhshan Banietemad, after she on Instagram
called on people to gather at Tehran's Azadi Square to pay respect
to the victims of the plane crash. Other vigils in the capital over
the weekend turned into protests.
Prominent state television anchor Gelareh Jabbari announced her
resignation on Instagram, apologizing to viewers for lying to them
for 13 years. Her post was later removed.
Amid the outcry, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani urged the
country's judiciary to establish a special court of high-ranking
judges and experts to hold to account those responsible for the
He said accountability was necessary not just for the sake of
the victims but also for the Iranian people.
"Anyone who should be punished will be punished," Mr. Rouhani
said in a televised speech, his first public remarks since the
plane was shot down. "The whole world will be watching our
Write to Sune Engel Rasmussen at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 14, 2020 07:07 ET (12:07 GMT)
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