The Ukrainian plane was shot down on Jan. 8, shortly after takeoff from Tehran, as hostilities between Iran and the United States had escalated after an American airstrike killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani. Hours before the airliner crashed, Iran had fired missiles at United States forces in Iraq in response to the general’s killing, and Iranian forces were on guard for American retaliation.
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, himself a former commander of Iran’s air defense forces, 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.”
Amid a heavy security presence in Tehran, protests broke out on several university campuses on Tuesday, as they have daily since the government admitted that the plane had been shot down. At Tehran University, where Mr. Khamenei had prayed over the coffin of General Suleimani just days earlier, students chanted about the ayatollah, “our shame, our shame is our supreme leader.”