A Canadian court has ruled that the downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 by Iran was a deliberate act of terrorism. The tragedy, which led to the loss of all 176 passengers and crew onboard, happened after Iran’s paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps fired two surface-to-air missiles at the plane shortly after takeoff from Tehran.
Downing of UIA plane ‘constitutes terrorist activity’
Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice has determined that the UIA Flight 752 disaster was a deliberate act of terrorism. The decision, delivered on Thursday by Justice Edward Belobaba, ruled in favor of a case brought by the families of four victims.
The judge ruled that the shooting is to be ‘considered a terrorist act under the State Immunity Act, the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act and the Criminal Code.’
Justice Edward Belobaba wrote in his decision,
“The plaintiffs have established that the shooting down of Flight 752 by the defendants was an act of terrorism and constitutes ‘terrorist activity.’ I find on a balance of probabilities that the missile attacks on Flight 752 were intentional and directly caused the deaths of all onboard.”
Of the 176 passengers and crew on the flight, 138 had ties to Canada, including 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents. According to legal experts, Canada’s federal government is set to release more detailed forensic information on the case in due course.
The defendants in the case, including Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran, and commanders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, did not defend themselves, making the verdict a default judgment.
Earlier this year, Ukraine rejected the Civil Aviation Organisation of Iran’s final report on the disaster, which blamed an operator for misidentifying the jet and firing missiles without authorization. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, described the report as “deceptive, biased and selective.”
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.
Canada will seek reparations for families
Yesterday’s verdict will establish grounds for Canada to seek reparations for the families of the victims onboard. Another court hearing will decide the compensation owed to families. The case was filed by Shahin Moghaddam, Mehrzad Zarei, Ali Gorji, and a fourth unnamed plaintiff, who all lost family members in the tragedy.
Obtaining the reparations will be no easy task. Litigation lawyer Mark Arnold, representing the four plaintiffs, said that Iranian assets held internationally and in Canada could be seized, including oil tankers.
At the time of filing, the case sought C$1.5 billion ($1.2 billion) in compensation. In December, Iran offered to pay C$150,000 to each family that lost someone onboard, a sum that was rejected by both Canada and Ukraine.
“We will be looking internationally to seize whatever it is we can seize once we have a determination of what the level of compensation is.”
Iran calls the ruling ‘baseless’
In response to the court’s decision, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Saeed Khatibzadeh, dismissed the verdict and questioned Canada’s jurisdiction on the matter. After calling the findings “baseless” and “without evidence and tangible reasons,” Khatibzadeh said,
“We urge the government of Canada to show the behavior of a mature government instead of pretending to be active in the case of this tragic incident and act according to recognized international laws and with respect for principles.”
Do you think the downing of UIA Flight 752 was a deliberate act of terrorism? Let us know what you think in the comments.