Iran’s President Calls for Special Court on Downed Plane

Iran’s President Calls for Special Court on Downed Plane

After three days of denying any role in the crash, Iran’s military admitted that the plane had been hit by at least one of its missiles.

Mr. Rouhani said on Tuesday that he wanted the issue “to be addressed to the people with honesty.”

“The familiarity I have with air defense issue, I say that it can’t be one person who is responsible for this,” he said, according to the state news agency. “Not just the person who pressed the button — there are others too.”

Ali Rabeei, a spokesman for Mr. Rouhani, has said that the government did not lie, but initially made incorrect statements because it did not have all the relevant information in a tense, fast-changing situation.

“Perhaps, I can even say, it was due to being kept uninformed,” Mr. Rabeei said.

President Rouhani asked the judiciary on Tuesday to create a “special court, with a high-ranking judge and tens of experts,” to look into the downing of the airliner.

“This is not a regular case,” Mr. Rouhani said. “The whole world will watch this trial.”

In the days since the government admitted that the plane was shot down, protests have flared in several Iranian cities. More demonstrations were expected on Tuesday, and heavy security presence was reported on the streets of Tehran, particularly around universities where the largest gatherings have occurred.

Mr. Ismaili, the judiciary spokesman, said about 30 people have been arrested over the recent days of protests. Among them was the British ambassador, Rob Macaire, who was held for several hours. The British government condemned his detention as a clear violation of international law.

“We will not allow anyone to deface the country’s security,” Mr. Ismaili said.

Officials in Tehran said on Tuesday that 61 of the 176 victims had been identified through DNA testing, and that their remains could be handed over to their families.

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