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Canada court awards families CAN$100m compensation over airliner downed by Iran

Relatives of 6 of the 85 Canadians killed when Ukrainian plane was destroyed in 2020 sought CAN$1.5 billion in damages

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at a memorial service for the victims of the Ukrainian Airlines flight PS752 crash in Iran at the Saville Community Sports Centre in Edmonton, Canada, January 12, 2020. (Walter Tychnowicz / AFP)
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at a memorial service for the victims of the Ukrainian Airlines flight PS752 crash in Iran at the Saville Community Sports Centre in Edmonton, Canada, January 12, 2020. (Walter Tychnowicz / AFP)

MONTREAL, Canada — A Canadian court has awarded more than CAN$100 million in compensation to the families of six people who died aboard a Ukrainian passenger jet shot down over Tehran almost two years ago, local media said Monday.

Iran shot down Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 shortly after takeoff from its capital Tehran on January 8, 2020, killing all 176 people aboard, including 85 Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

Three days later, the Iranian armed forces admitted having shot down the Kyiv-bound plane “by mistake.”

Ontario Superior Court Judge Edward Belobaba awarded the plaintiffs more than CAN$107 million (74 million euros), according to several media outlets, including the English-language channel CBC.

In May, the same judge concluded that Iran had committed a “terrorist” act by shooting down the Ukrainian aircraft, paving the way for a claim for compensation from the families of the victims.

Tehran denounced that ruling, saying it had “no basis” and insisting that the Canadian court lacked the authority to render such a decision.

The plaintiffs had asked for CAN$1.5 billion in damages.

People and rescue teams amid bodies and debris after a Ukrainian plane carrying 176 passengers that was accidentally shot down by Iranian forces near Imam Khomeini airport in the Iranian capital Tehran, January 8, 2020. (Rouhollah Vahdati/ISNA/AFP)

In a final report in March, the Iranian Civil Aviation Organization (CAO) said its air defense systems were on high alert for a US counterattack after Tehran fired missiles at a military base in Iraq that was used by US forces.

The Islamic Republic had just attacked a US base in Iraq in response to the killing of General Qassem Soleimani, and were expecting a response from Washington.

Ukraine denounced the report as a “cynical attempt to hide the real causes” of the tragedy, while Ottawa said the report was “incomplete” and lacked “hard evidence.”

A group of countries led by Canada said in June that they had filed an action against Iran to seek compensation for the families of the victims.

In December 2020, Iran offered to pay “$150,000 or the equivalent in euros” to each of the victims’ families. That announcement was strongly criticized by Ukrainian and Canadian officials, who said that compensation should not be settled through unilateral declarations.

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