Iran’s Judiciary says a number of arrests have been made in connection with the recent unintentional downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane, which killed all the 176 people aboard.
Gholam-Hossein Esmaili, the Judiciary’s spokesman, said on Tuesday that special commissions have been set up by the General Staff of the Armed Forces to investigate the tragedy.
“Extensive investigations have been launched and a number of people have been arrested,” said the official, without specifying the number of the arrests.
On a special order issued by Iranian Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raeisi, the Judiciary Organization of the Armed Forces has been tasked with probing the data recorded on the black boxes of the downed plane with the help of experts from the General Staff of the Armed Forces and the Civil Aviation Organization of Iran as well as experts in electronic warfare, the spokesman said.
Esmaili further assured that all dimensions of the incident would be brought to light and justice would be served.
The Ukrainian International Airlines Boeing 737-800, flight PS752, was shot down by an Iranian air defense unit on Wednesday morning shortly after take-off from Tehran en route to Kiev.
The operator had mistaken the passenger plane with a cruise missile at a time that the air defense was at the highest level of alert following Iran’s missile strike on a US air base in Iraq in retaliation for Washington’s assassination of prominent commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani.
The official said that many people have also been interrogated as part of the probe into the incident, and that documents and evidence have been collected in this regard.
‘Judiciary believes UK envoy is persona non grata’
Elsewhere in his remarks, Esmaili referred to the brief arrest of British Ambassador to Tehran Robert Macaire during an unauthorized protest in front of the Amir Kabir University on Saturday.
“The fact that the UK ambassador to the Islamic Republic attends an illegal gathering, takes photos and videos of the event and plays a provocative role is not acceptable at all,” he said.
“In his first encounter with [Iranian] security forces, he spoke in English and refused to introduce himself, but when he later realized that he risked arrest, he began to speak in Persian and introduced himself as Britain’s envoy,” the official added.
He said the British ambassador’s action clearly amounted to “mischief and lying,” stressing that “under international law, such elements are regarded as persona non gratae, whether they are diplomats or not; People expect his expulsion from the country.”
The official said it is, in fact, the Iranian Foreign Ministry that is in charge of making decisions on the UK envoy’s case, “but to us (Judiciary), he is a persona non grata.”