Although Iranian officials have repeatedly stated that Ukraine International Airline's (UIA) passenger plane "was shot down due to human error" in January, an influential member of parliament says the military did the right thing by shooting down the airliner.
On January 8, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps' (IRGC) missiles shot down the Boeing plane killing all 176 onboard, as it was taking off from Tehran, but initially Iran claimed the plane crashed due to unknown reasons.
It took three days for officials to admit that the military had shot down the aircraft and later claimed that some personnel were arrested.
However, a member of parliament's Legal and Judicial Commission, Hassan Norouzi, now says that nobody was arrested for the incident, and the military forces did their job well by downing the passenger plane.
"The Iranian military did well by downing the passenger plane," mid-ranking cleric, Norouzi said on Sunday, April 5, adding, "Contrary to the official claims, no arrests have been made concerning the downing."
Speaking to a local daily, Hamdeli, the ultraconservative spokesman for the parliament’s Legal and Judicial Commission claimed that "the plane was no longer under the control of the tower and appeared to have come under America’s control."
Furthermore, Norouzi maintained that the UIA's plane "was in Israel the week before the incident and appeared to have been tampered with and manipulated, there."
Norouzi went even further by claiming that as the passenger plane was controlled by "others", the Iranian military had no option but shoot it down.
"Given the fact that other countries were controlling the plane, our military forces did their job well,", Norouzi reiterated, concluding that it would have been meaningless to arrest elements responsible for the downing.
However, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) had earlier accepted "full responsibility" for the downing of a UIA passenger plane.
Three days after the disaster, in a video posted online by the state-run TV, the Chief Commander of the IRGC's Aerospace Force, General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, accepted full responsibility for the disaster.
"We accept full responsibility for this act (shooting down the plane), and we will obey and carry out what decisions the authorities will make… I wish I could die and not witness such an accident," Hajizadeh said.
Days after the incident, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also said in a statement the armed forces’ internal investigation had concluded that regrettably, missiles fired due to human error caused the horrific crash of the Ukrainian plane & death of 176 innocent people.
Moreover, Rouhani said in a tweet, "Investigations continue to identify and prosecute those responsible for this great tragedy & unforgivable mistake. The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake. My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families. I offer my sincerest condolences."
Rouhani and the IRGC commanders have not yet reacted to Norouzi's unprecedented remarks but the website of the Judicial Organization of the Armed Forces on Monday refuted his statement and said "a number of people were arrested and indicted" without giving further details.
In the meantime, the Islamic Republic has not yet yielded to international demands to hand over the doomed Boeing’s data and voice recorders for professional examnation.