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Iran announces arrests over downing of plane; Rouhani: Must punish all involved

Iran’s judiciary said Tuesday arrests have been made over the accidental shootdown of a Ukrainian passenger plane just after takeoff from Tehran last week. killing all 176 people on board.

The announcement came shortly after Iran’s president called for a special court to be set up to probe the downing last week of the plane by Iranian forces, and amid an upswell of anger and protests by Iranians in recent days over the downing of the jetliner last Wednesday and attempts by senior officials in Iran to cover-up the cause of the crash.

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili was quoted by Iranian state media saying that “extensive investigations have taken place and some individuals are arrested.” He did not say how many individuals have been detained or name them.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday that “anyone who should be punished must be punished.”

“For our people it is very important in this incident that anyone who was at fault or negligent at any level” face justice, he said in a televised speech.

“The judiciary must form a special court with high-ranking judge and dozens of experts… The whole world will be watching.”

Rouhani called the incident “a painful and unforgivable” mistake and promised that his administration would pursue the case “by all means.”

Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Guard’s aerospace division, said over the weekend his unit accepts full responsibility for the shootdown. He said when he learned about the downing of the plane, “I wished I was dead.”