TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Iran’s Prosecutor General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri instructed the military prosecutor of Tehran Province to rapidly investigate the shooting down of a Ukrainian airliner near the capital.
In a letter to Gholam Abbas Torki on Saturday, Montazeri pointed to an earlier statement of the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces about the human error behind “the tragic incident” and offered his deep condolences to the bereaved families of the victims.
He further urged Torki to proceed promptly and carefully with investigations aimed at identifying all the causes and those behind the accident and report the results.
It came after the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces announced that the country’s air defense unintentionally shot down the Ukrainian passenger plane on January 8 amid the highest level of readiness because of a possible military attack by the US.
In a statement on Saturday, the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces said the incident took place following Iranian missile strikes on a military base of the criminal US regime in Iraq and amid a possible threat of hostile military actions.
“Following the threats from the president and the military commanders of the criminal US that a large number of targets on the Islamic Republic of Iran’s soil would be hit in case of a retaliatory operation, and considering an unprecedented increase in the aerial movements over the region, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Armed Forces were on the highest level of readiness in order to respond to possible threats,” the statement read.
It also said that military flights by the terrorist American forces had increased around Iran after the missile attack and there were reports that hostile aircraft posing threats to Iranian strategic centers had been tracked on radar screens, making the Iranian Air Defense more sensitive.
The statement added that the Ukrainian passenger plane had been approaching a sensitive military site of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in a latitude and with a form similar to those of a hostile object, and that a “human error” caused the jetliner to be hit unintentionally, leading to the martyrdom of the passengers.
It also offered an apology for the human error and expressed sympathy with the bereaved families of the victims, giving an assurance that “fundamental reforms” in the operational processes of the Armed Forces would prevent a recurrence of such errors.
The victims of Wednesday’s crash included 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans, and three British nationals.
All 179 people on board the Boeing 737, including nine crew, were killed when the jetliner crashed shortly after takeoff from the airport on Wednesday morning.
The plane operated by Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) was bound for Kiev.