Published: Tue, January 14, 2020
Life&Culture | By Sue Mclaughlin

Iran gives Canadian investigators access to a crashed plane

Iran gives Canadian investigators access to a crashed plane

Popular anger swelled on Monday in Iran over the accidental downing of a Ukrainian jetliner and the government's attempt to hide its role in the tragedy, as online videos appeared to show security forces firing live ammunition and tear gas to disperse protests in the streets.

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said that "extensive investigations have taken place and some individuals have been arrested" for their role in the crash.

The five include Canada, which had at least 57 passport holders on the flight, many of them Iranian-Canadian students and academics heading home after holiday visits.

He also called the crash an "unforgivable error", pledging that all those involved in the incident will be punished.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday said that those responsible for shooting down a Ukrainian passenger jet must be punished. "This is not an ordinary case. The whole world will be watching", Rouhani said. "We should assure people that it will not happen again", he said, adding that his Government was, "accountable to Iranians, and other nations who lost lives in the plane crash".

"There are others, too, and I want that this issue is expressed honestly", he said, without elaborating.

Iran shot down the plane when it was bracing for possible United States retaliation for a ballistic missile attack on two military bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq. No one was hurt in that attack, which was carried out in response to the stunning killing of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani in an American airstrike in Baghdad. They say the US provoked Iran by killing a top Iranian commander, Maj. Iran said it attacked the bases in retaliation for the killing of Soleimani. There were no reports of USA casualties.

O'Brien said the U.S.'s "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran is working.

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However, the Iranian government initially denied that the plane had been shot down, attempting to cover up the disaster.

All 176 on board were killed, including 138 people who were headed for Canada.

Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 was launched by a rocket shortly after take-off in Tehran before dawn, killing all 176 passengers and crew on board.

Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Guard's aerospace division, said over the weekend his unit accepts full responsibility for the shootdown.

Saeed Maroof, the captain of Iran's national volleyball team, also wrote on Instagram: "I wish I could be hopeful that this was the last scene of the show of deceit and lack of wisdom of these incompetents but I still know it is not".

The strike led to an Iranian missile attack on two Iraqi air bases housing US personnel five days later and raised the specter of a wider regional conflict. They mistook the plane for cruise missiles during a period of heightened tensions with the U.S. In Iran, sorrow soon turned into anger as protests have erupted all across the country. There are reports of Iranian forces firing live ammunition and tear gas to disperse the protesters. Trudeau said on January 13 in an emotive speech that those people would be safe at home with their families now were it not for the escalating tensions between the United States and Iran. An Iranian film director who'd called for protests in Tehran's Azadi, or Freedom, Square is among those released.

Britain's foreign office on Monday summoned Iran's ambassador to lodge its "strong objections" after its Tehran envoy Rob Macaire was briefly arrested for allegedly attending Saturday night's demonstration.

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