Iran’s Judiciary: Arrests made over downing of Ukraine jetliner

Press TV – Iran’s Judiciary says a number of arrests have been made in connection with the recent downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane near Tehran, which killed all 176 on board.

Gholam-Hossein Esmaili, the Judiciary’s spokesman, said on Tuesday that special commissions had been set up by the General Staff of the Armed Forces to investigate the tragedy.

“Thorough investigations have been launched and a number of individuals have been arrested,” said the official, without specifying exactly how many people were in detention.

The Judiciary Organization of the Armed Forces has been tasked with probing the data on the aircraft’s black boxes with the help of experts from the General Staff of the Armed Forces and the Civil Aviation Organization of Iran as well as electronic warfare professionals, the spokesman said.

Esmaili further noted that efforts would be made to shed light on all dimensions of the incident and to ensure that justice is served.

An Iranian air defense unit mistakenly shot down Flight 752 of the Ukrainian International Airlines on Wednesday morning shortly after take-off from Tehran en route to Kiev.

The operator had mistaken the Boeing 737-800 with a cruise missile at a time when the air defense systems were 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 individuals had already been interrogated as part of the probe, and that documents and evidence were being collected.

‘Judiciary regards UK envoy as persona non grata’

Elsewhere in his remarks, Esmaili referred to the brief arrest of British Ambassador to Tehran Robert Macaire during an unauthorized protest near Tehran’s 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 totally unacceptable,” he said.

“In his first encounter with [Iranian] security forces, [Macaire] spoke in English and refused to introduce himself, but when he later realized that he risked being arrested, 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 grata, whether they are diplomats or not. The public is demanding his expulsion.”

The official said the responsibility to make a decision in this regard resides with the Foreign Ministry, but that from the Judiciary’s perspective, “Macaire is a persona non grata.”