Iran makes arrests over downed Ukrainian jet

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January 15, 2020
Iran missile strike 737
The wreckage from the 737. Photo: ISNA

Iranian authorities have arrested several people in connection with the fatal missile attack on an Ukrainian passenger jet as the investigation headed by Iran gathers momentum.

Media reports say it is not clear how many people have been arrested or with what they have been charged but Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has vowed that those responsible for the tragedy will be punished.

Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 appears to have been targeted by two ground-to-air missiles shortly after it took off from Tehran.

The Boeing 737-800 was traveling to Kiev and all 176 people on board, including 57 Canadians, died when the plane plunged to the ground and exploded.

Iranians took to the streets after the nation’s military admitted it had downed the jet “unintentionally due to human error” after denying for several days that the accident was due to a missile strike.

READ: Serious flaws on Iran’s claims on Flight PS 752.

It claimed that the Ukrainian jet moved too close to a sensitive military base at a time tensions were high because of the US assassination of General Qassem Soleimani.

In the latest development, CNN quoted Rouhani warning that Iran would push to “detect all aspects of the event and punishing those responsible”.

He said a special court with “a high-ranking judge and dozens of experts” should be established in order to investigate the incident.

“This is not an ordinary case and all of world is looking at us,” he added.

Meanwhile, Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization said that a meeting of investigators from Ukraine, Canada and Iran took place on January 14.

French investigators have been asked to support their Ukrainian counterparts with technical work on the cockpit voice and flight data recorders.

The BEA said on Twitter Tuesday that discussions were still underway between all stakeholders of the safety investigation and it had not at this stage been asked to carry out repair and data download from the recorders.

Canada has also said it will dispatch a team of specialists in aircraft recorder download and analysis once it confirms where the activity will take place.

“As 57 of the passengers who died in this tragedy were Canadian, it is our hope that the TSB will be allowed to bring more of its expertise to a thorough and transparent investigation,” TSB chair Kathy Fox said.

“The TSB is seen as a world leader, and we have participated in foreign investigations for almost 30 years. […] As an independent accident investigation agency, we will also collaborate with the other international investigation authorities with whom we have long-standing and well-developed relationships—including those from France, Sweden, the UK and the US, as well as Ukraine.”

Sweden and the US have also assigned accredited representatives to the investigation.