The Superior Court of Justice of the Canadian province of Ontario has ruled that Iran must compensate the families of six of the victims of Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752, a tragedy that occurred on January 8, 2020. Judge Edward Beloaba, in his decision signed on December 31 and made public last Monday, it indicated that Tehran will have to disburse 107 million Canadian dollars (about 84 million US dollars), both in compensation and in punitive damages and interest, to the relatives who filed the lawsuit a few weeks later of the catastrophe. Beloaba wrote that “damages are a poor substitute for lost lives.”
The Ukrainian company flight was shot down by two missiles of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Tehran had originally reported that it was an air accident, but had to rectify a few days later when it recognized the launch of the projectiles, classifying it as a “disastrous mistake.” The drama of the plane that was heading to Kiev from the Iranian capital caused consternation in Canada, since 138 of its 176 occupants had the North American country as their final destination (55 with a Canadian passport, 30 permanent residents and 53 visitors).
Judge Beloaba had ruled in May 2021 that the destruction of the plane was an “act of terrorism.” This decision made it possible to circumvent the immunity that foreign countries have in Canadian courts, opening the way to request compensation. The Iranian authorities expressed on that date that it was an “unsubstantiated” ruling and that the Canadian courts have no jurisdiction in this matter; all judicial proceedings, they stressed, must be carried out within Iran.
Mark Arnold, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, told the newspaper The Globe and Mail after Judge Beloaba’s decision regarding the compensation that the case “establishes in Canada that a terrorist case cannot be perpetrated against Canadian citizens without paying for it.” The next challenge, Arnold pointed out, is to seize Iranian assets – inside and outside the North American country – to cover the amounts. However, he claimed that one of his defendants in another matter succeeded five years ago. “Once the dust settles, we will go after anything that is owned by Iran,” he added.
This Tuesday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic said that the court decision is “shameful”, criticizing that the court has set the amounts without having “credible evidence.” On the same day, some family members and their attorneys held a virtual press conference to provide more details. However, the event had to be canceled within minutes of its start due to hacker interruptions.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.