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Published on Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Iran detains 'several' people following shooting down of passenger plane



Several people have been arrested in Iran over the accidental shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger plane with a missile, according to the country' judiciary.


President Hassan Rouhani (left) said there would be an investigation, which would be overseen by a special court.


Ukrainian International Airlines flight PS752 was shot down shortly after taking off from Tehran last Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board, including three Britons. Most of the victims were Iranian and Canadian citizens.


Iran initially denied that its military had shot down the Boeing 737, claiming that the crash had been caused by a technical failure or human error.


It took three days for it to admit that the operator of a missile defence system had mistaken the passenger plane for a US cruise missile and shot it out of the sky.


Iran's defence forces were looking out for US missile attacks in retaliation for its recent attacks on two US bases in Iraq following the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani by a US drone strike in Baghdad.


Government spokesperson Gholamhossein Esmaili told a news conference in Tehran that the judiciary would investigate the causes of the incident.


He added: "We will investigate the extent to which US warmongering caused this event. Several people have been detained and the investigation continues."


In a televised speech, President Rouhani said a special court with a high-ranking judge and tens of experts would oversee the investigation.


"Iranian armed forces admitting their mistake is a good first step," he added. "We should assure people that it will not happen again," he added.


The president also said he wanted relevant officials to explain publicly why it took days for the authorities to disclose that missiles were fired at flight PS752. The commander of the Revolutionary Guards' Aerospace Force said on Saturday that he had informed 'officials' about the strike hours after the incident.

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