Canadian court awards $84m to families of airliner downed by Iran

Plaintiffs look to seize Iranian assets in Canada and abroad to pay penalty

(FILES) In this file photo rescue teams work amidst debris after a Ukrainian plane carrying 176 passengers crashed near Imam Khomeini airport in the Iranian capital Tehran early in the morning on January 8, 2020, killing everyone on board. Canada said it was demanding answers from Iran over the mistaken downing of a Ukrainian passenger jet after Tehran's "limited" initial report failed to explain why it fired missiles at the plane. Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran's main airport on January 8. Iran admitted days later that its forces had accidentally shot down the Kiev-bound Boeing 737-800, killing all 176 people on board, including 55 Canadians.The Canadian government said August 23, 2020 it had received a copy of the Iranian report on the cockpit voice recorders.
 / AFP / -

A court in Ontario, Canada, has awarded $83.94 million (CAN$107m), plus interest, to the families of six people who died when members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps downed a Ukraine International Airlines plane near Tehran two years ago.

Iran shot down the airliner in January 2020, killing all 176 people aboard, including 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents.

The six family members awarded compensation by the 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 other officials they believe were to blame for the incident.

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 on Monday.

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.

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 criticised the report as being “highly politicised".

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 take-off from Tehran in January 2020 and blamed a “disastrous mistake” by forces on high alert during a period of heightened tension with the US.

At the time, Iran was on edge about possible attacks after it fired missiles at Iraqi bases housing American forces in retaliation for the killing days before of its most powerful military commander, Qassem Suleimani, in a US missile strike at Baghdad airport.

Updated: January 3rd 2022, 10:20 PM