Rouhani: Judiciary should form special court to investigate plane crash 

January 14, 2020 - 15:15

TEHRAN - President Hassan Rouhani of Iran said on Tuesday that the Judiciary should form a special court headed by a high-ranking judge and assisted by tens of senior experts to investigate the issue of the Ukrainian plane crash.

The Ukrainian passenger plane, with 176 people aboard, was mistakenly downed on the 8th of January by the air defense system. 

The plane was shot down six minutes after taking off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport to Kiev in the morning time of January 8. 
 
“This is not an ordinary case. The entire world will monitor the proposed court,” Rouhani said. 

“I myself, due to my somehow knowledge about air defense issue, say that only one person can’t be guilty in this adventure, so there are some others. I want (the relevant bodies) to explain the issue honestly to the people,” Rouhani added. 

The victims included 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans, and three British nationals.

Rouhani said, “The government feels responsibility towards the people as well as other nationalities who lost their lives in the incident. The government will fulfill its legal and judicial duties in this regard.” 

In a press conference on Monday, government spokesman Ali Rabiei acknowledged that the country’s defective cycle of information was the cause of misinforming people about the cause of the plane crash, expressing official apology for the shortcoming. 

The downing happened a few hours after Iran fired dozens of missiles at a U.S. airbase inside Iraq in retaliation to the assassination of Iranian Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on January 3. According to IRGC Aerospace Force Commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the operator at the airbase had mistaken the plane for an attacking cruise missile.  

Iran’s Armed Forces issued a statement on Saturday morning announcing that the Ukrainian passenger plane was shot down near the Imam Khomeini Airport due to a “human error”.

“The Ukrainian passenger plane was hit unintentionally and due to human error which unfortunately led to martyrdom of a number of our people and also a number of foreign nationals,” the statement read.

Rabiei criticized the defective cycle of information, saying, “In fact, the government itself is wrapped in a defective cycle of providing and receiving information.”

“Some people are criticizing that why the government did not conduct more studies before announcing its stance, but, we sent several inquiries to the relevant officials before releasing our view and the entire relevant officials, based on their information at the time, told us that there were no any missile fire,” Rabiei explained. 

“Hereby, we apologize to the dear Iranian nation, public opinion and journalists,” he added.  

Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), said on Sunday that Iran had no intention to hide causes of the plane crash.

“From the beginning of the crash, we had no intention to hide its causes,” he said during a memorial service for two victims of the crash. 

It took time to announce the causes due to necessity to investigate all hypotheses, especially “possible actions of the enemies in jamming”, “hack of the systems” and “the issue of infiltration”, explained Shamkhani who served as defense minister in the Khatami administration from 1997 to 2005. 

On Saturday, hundreds of people gathered in front of the main universities in Tehran to voice their protests over the late admission of downing the Ukrainian plane and misinforming the people. 

Similar protest gatherings were held in certain other cities on Saturday and Sunday.

Major General Hossein Salami, chief of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), said on Sunday that he wished he was on the downed plane so he could avoid the shame of making such a colossal mistake.

 “Concerning the incident, we are saddened more than anybody else and never thought we would carry out an action that could harm people,” Salami told a closed session of the parliament on Sunday.

 “The operator was informed of cruise missiles targeting some points in Iran, for few moments he was disconnected with SOC (security operations center),” he explained,  according to Mehr.

 “Therefore, he mistook the passenger flight for a missile and shot it down,” he added.

Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi on Monday vowed to fully observe justice in probing the plane crash case.

“In pursuing the case of the downed plane, justice will be implemented irrespective of any circumstances,” Raisi said, Tasnim reported.

“People should be assured that all the material and moral rights of the deceased and their families will be fully fulfilled and the establishment is resolute with regard to this issue,” he stated.

MJ/PA


 

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