Iran ordered to pay more than £60m to families of victims from plane shot down in 2020

The passenger plane was brought down with the loss of 176 lives

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Tuesday 04 January 2022 14:32
<p>People gather for a candlelight vigil to remember the victims of a Ukraine plane crash</p>

People gather for a candlelight vigil to remember the victims of a Ukraine plane crash

A court in Canada has ruled that Iran should pay $84m (£62m) in damages to families of six people with Canadian citizenship or residency who were killed in the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane by the Iranian military in 2020.

A judge in Ontario earlier ruled that Iran intentionally shot down the Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 with two surface-to-air missiles in January 2020 killing 176 people, including dozens of Canadians.

The disaster prompted some families of the victims to sue Iran in Canadian civil court. A total of 55 Canadians and 30 permanent residents of Canada died in the tragedy.

The court had ruled that the downing constituted as an "act of terrorism" which allowed the kin of the victims to bypass Iran's legal immunity and seek compensation for their losses. Iran at that time did not defend the suit and the court earlier declared the Middle Eastern nation to be “in default”.

In a ruling made public on Monday, Justice Edward Belobaba awarded seven million Canadian dollars in compensatory damages and 100 million Canadian dollars in punitive damages, along with interest to families that filed the lawsuit in Ontario.

"This court well understands that damage awards are a poor substitute for the lives that were lost," Justice Belobaba said in the ruling, dated 31 December.

Even though it remains unclear how the families would collect the compensation from Iran, local media reported that the families hailed the court's decision as "unprecedented in Canadian law".

The crash took place at a time when Washington and Tehran appeares close to war. Hours prior to the downing, Iran had fired ballistic missiles at American bases in Iraq in retaliation for the US drone strike that assassinated Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

The flight crashed outside Tehran with 176 onboard, out of which 138 were travelling to Canada through Ukraine. According to reports, several passengers were students returning to university after the winter break.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau had vowed to bring "justice and accountability" for the victims of the plane crash. "We will not rest until there are answers. We will not rest until there is justice and accountability," he had said at a vigil, shortly after the incident.

While Iran initially denied its involvement, the country's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard publicly apologized and blamed an air defence operator who authorities said mistook the Boeing 737-800 for an American cruise missile.

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