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Iran's Rouhani promises 'punisihing those involved' in Ukraine plane crash

Iran president Rouhani calls for special court for plane crash

Iran’s president said on Tuesday a special court should be formed to probe the downing of a Ukrainian passenger jet that was mistakenly targeted by Iranian forces just after takeoff from Tehran, killing all 176 people aboard. Initially, senior officials in Iran dismissed allegations that a missile had brought down the jetliner. In the face of mounting evidence, however, Iran acknowledged on January 11 – three days after the crash – that its Revolutionary Guard had shot down the Ukrainian plane by accident.

“The fact that our armed forces admitted to their error frankly and apologised to the people was a good first step taken. Other steps must be taken as well,” Rouhani said. “This incident was without precedent in the history of our country. There has never been a time when a person in charge of our air defence systems or an officer committed such an error against a passenger plane in the country’s capital, centre of the country and near the international airport.”

“The judiciary should form a special court with a high-ranking judge and dozens of experts,” President Hassan Rouhani said in a speech televised in Iran.

“This is not a usual and ordinary case. The entire world will be watching this court,” he added.

Iran shot down the plane when it was bracing for possible US retaliation for a ballistic missile attack on two military bases housing US troops in Iraq.

“While sympathising with all the dear families that were hit by this big tragedy, I tell them that we will continue this path until discovering all the aspects of the incident and punishing those involved and finally reassuring the people that such an incident will not happen again.”

No one was hurt in that attack, which was carried out to avenge the killing of Revolutionary Guard General Qassem Soleimani in an American airstrike in Baghdad.

The shooting down of the plane and the lack of transparency around the incident has reignited anger at the country’s leadership, with protesters taking to the streets in past days. Online videos appeared to show security forces firing live ammunition and tear gas to disperse protests in the streets.

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