A Canadian court, which had concluded in May that the downing of a Ukrainian airliner by Iran in 2020 was deliberate, has awarded C$107 million ($84 million) to the families of six people.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) shot down the Ukraine International Airlines plane on January 8, 2020, as it was taking off from the capital’s international airport. All 176 people onboard were killed, including 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents.
The six family members awarded compensation by an Ontario court lost spouses, siblings, children, nieces and nephews aboard Flight 752, their lawyer, Mark Arnold, said in a statement on Monday. They had filed a civil lawsuit against Iran and senior officials they believe were to blame for the incident.
A report by an association composed of mostly Canadian families of Flight PS752 victims in November challenged Iran's official findings that blamed a misaligned radar and an error by the air defense operator for downing the plane. Iran has not allowed any independent investigation to take place.
The lawyer said his team will look to seize Iranian assets in Canada and abroad. He said Iran has oil tankers in other countries and his team will be looking to seize whatever it can to pay what the families are owed.
The decision by Justice Edward Belobaba of Ontario's Superior Court of Justice was dated December 31 and announced by Arnold on Monday and awarded $100 million in punitive damages to be shared by the estates of the six victims. The court also awarded another $1 million to family members for the loss of guidance, care and companionship, and $6 million for pain and suffering.
Since it was a civil and not a criminal lawsuit the plaintiffs did not have to prove beyond “a reasonable doubt” that the downing of the plane was a deliberate terror act.
The case was filed by Shahin Moghaddam, Mehrzad Zarei and Ali Gorji. Fearing reprisals from Iran, some of the other plaintiffs withheld their names, CBC News reported earlier. Earlier reports had said that there are other pending court cases in Canada and in the United States.
A special Canadian forensic team had produced a report in mid-2021 that accused Iran of incompetence and recklessness over the downing of the Ukrainian passenger plane. Iran criticized the report as being "highly politicized".
Canada is not the only country seeking justice in the incident. Ukraine has been the most vocal party affected by the tragedy and has repeatedly blamed Iran for lack of cooperation in the investigation.
The report found that while the shooting down of Ukrainian International Airlines flight 752 had not been premeditated, it did not absolve Iranian officials of responsibility for the incident.
Iran admitted it shot down the airliner shortly after takeoff from Tehran in January 2020 and blamed a "disastrous mistake" by forces on high alert during a confrontation with the United States.
At the time, Iran was on edge about possible attacks after it fired missiles at Iraqi bases housing US forces in retaliation for the killing days before of its most powerful military commander, Qasem Soleimani, in a US missile strike at Baghdad airport. But authorities failed to close the civilian airspace that led to the tragedy.
With reporting by Reuters