© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People hold placards with pictures of the victims of the Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 crash that was shot down by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards near Tehran as they gather to take part in a first anniversary march
TORONTO (Reuters) – A court in the Canadian province of Ontario ruled Thursday that Iran owes damages to families sued after the Iranian Revolutionary Guards shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane in January 2020 shortly after it took off from Tehran.
The Ontario Supreme Court ruled that the missile attack “considering the odds” was a premeditated act of terrorism based primarily on written evidence from attorneys representing the families of some of the victims.
Iran did not defend itself in court. Calls and emails to the Washington office that handles Iranian consular affairs in Canada were not answered immediately.
138 of the 176 people killed on the flight had connections to Canada.
The judge has not ruled on damages that will be dealt with in a future hearing. Initial filing was requested for at least CAD 1.5 billion (US $ 1.2 billion) in compensation.
The Iranian government said the jet crash was a “catastrophic mistake” by forces on high alert during a confrontation with the United States.
Foreign states normally do not fall under the jurisdiction of Canadian courts, but a 2012 Canadian law limits this immunity to countries listed as “foreign state supporters of terrorism”, including Iran.
Canada does not have formal diplomatic relations with Iran, and filing claims for damages will likely be long and complex, but has been done before.
The lawsuit named Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, top commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and others.
Mark Arnold, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, has represented clients in other lawsuits against Iran, including a 2017 ruling that resulted in the seizure of some Iranian assets in Canada.
($ 1 = 1.2054 Canadian dollars)
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