Iran has arrested an undisclosed number of suspects accused of a role in last week’s downing of a Ukrainian plane which Tehran said was accidentally hit by an Iranian missile, Reuters reported on Tuesday January 14th.
Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said on Tuesday that some people were arrested for their role in the crash, without identifying the suspects or saying how many had been held.
Meanwhile, security forces in Iran have arrested around 30 protesters who took to the streets after Tehran’s admission of responsibility for the crash.
"Around 30 people have been arrested for taking part in illegal gatherings ... We have tolerance towards legal rallies," said Esmaili, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.
On Saturday January 11th, Iran admitted it had shot the plane down during a state of high alert, hours after it had launched missiles at US forces in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of Iranian top commander, general Qasem Soleimani.
Since Saturday, the number of anti-government protests across the country has increased.
Wednesday's crash of Ukraine International Airlines flight 752, killing all 176 people on board, has led to one of the greatest public challenges to Iran’s clerical leaders since they came to power in the Islamic Revolution of 1979.
President Hassan Rouhani vowed a thorough investigation into the "unforgivable error" of shooting down the plane during a television address on Tuesday, as part of a series of apologies from a leadership that rarely admits mistakes.
"Iranian armed forces admitting their mistake is a good first step," Rouhani said in Tuesday's address. He added that those responsible would be punished and the government would be accountable to Iranians and those nations who lost citizens.
The catastrophe and subsequent unrest come amid escalations between Tehran and Washington. Tit-for-tat military strikes began with missiles launched at a US base that killed an American contractor in last December, after which Washington assassinated the Iran’s top military commander, Qasem Soleimani, in a drone strike in Baghdad on January 3rd.
Ukraine's foreign minister said representatives from five of the countries whose citizens were killed when the airliner was shot down would meet on Thursday. "We will meet in person in London to discuss the ways, including legal, (for) how we are following this up," VadymPrystaiko said on Monday, January 12th.