The investigation into the accident of President Ebrahim Raisi begins and the funeral events begin


. Raisi and his entourage were traveling in a decades-old American-made helicopter.

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Thousands of people gathered on the streets of the Iranian city of Tabriz on Tuesday to mourn President Ebrahim Raisi and other high-ranking officials who died in a helicopter crash during foggy weather.

Iran’s government declared a week of mourning following Sunday’s accident.

It took place on a remote mountainside near Azerbaijan. The incident killed Raisi, a 63-year-old ultraconservative cleric who had been president of the Islamic Republic for three years and was once seen as a possible successor to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

Several Iranian security officials, local politicians and clerics, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and the helicopter crew were also killed in the incident.

Mourners touched the coffins of Raisi and the others killed in the accident as they passed through Tabriz, videos and images published on state media show. They held portraits and waved flags. A large funeral was expected to be held in Tehran on Wednesday, with Khamenei leading a prayer service.

Raisi will be buried in Mashad, his hometown, on Friday.

In a closed society like Iran, it can be difficult to assess the true strength of public sentiment when its leaders die. When Qasem Soleimani, a top commander in Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard, was killed by a US missile in 2020 in Iraq, his funeral drew large crowds of mourners, many apparently crying with grief and rage.

Iran accident investigation: few clues

However, the ceremonies and processions came as Iranian and international investigators said they still do not have a solid indication about the cause of the accident, however, some kind of technical failure was suspected. Raisi and his entourage were traveling in a decades-old American-made helicopter. Years of American and Western sanctions have made it difficult for Iran to obtain spare parts and service much of the country’s aging air fleet.

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Iran said it established a “commission” to investigate the accident. Turkey said that as part of Sunday’s search operation, it attempted to track the helicopter’s transponder, a device that transmits location data.

“We immediately contacted the Iranian side. They also contacted us, but unfortunately it was seen that the signal system was turned off or the helicopter did not have the signal system,” said Abdulkadir Uraloglu, Minister of Transport. and Infrastructure of Turkey, in a statement. interview with his nation’s state broadcaster, TRT. Uraloglu said it was too early to draw firm conclusions, but that fog appeared to be the most likely cause of the accident.

Russia has said it is willing to provide assistance with Iran’s investigation into the cause of the crash. In the past, Iran has rejected offers of international help to investigate its plane crashes.

The right kind of condolences for Iran’s president

Iran will hold elections on June 28. Away from the investigation, Raisi’s death, which political scientists said was unlikely to significantly alter Iran’s domestic or foreign policies, resonated in some diplomatic halls.

A tweet by European Council President Charles Michel saying that “the EU expresses its sincere condolences” sparked a backlash online, with the social media hashtag #Notinmyname highlighting Raisi’s alleged role in the execution of thousands of political prisoners in Iran in the 1980s, when he was branded the “Butcher of Tehran.”

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A subsequent statement from the US State Department offering “official condolences” for the president’s death and reaffirming “our support for the Iranian people and their fight for human rights and fundamental freedoms” also drew criticism online. “Offering condolences for the death of this monster is a disgrace,” Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas wrote on the social media site X.

In a briefing on Monday, US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller attempted to defend the statement.

“We have made it abundantly clear that Ebrahim Raisi was a brutal participant in the repression of the Iranian people for almost four decades,” he said. “Some of the worst human rights abuses occurred during his tenure as president, especially human rights abuses against women and girls in Iran.”