An unknown individual appears to have disrupted a virtual press conference with some of the families of victims of the 2020 Iran plane crash.
The six families and their lawyers had been discussing a $107-million Ontario court decision granted on Monday for their sufferings. It followed a ruling last spring that Iran’s missile strike against the civilian aircraft was an intentional act of terrorism.
Families of the victims had been set to speak about their reactions to the decision on Tuesday at a Zoom press conference before the video feed appeared to be hijacked by an unknown person.
The video feed abruptly switched to a profanity-laced rap video.
An unknown man then appeared on the screen.
It is not clear at this time who the individual is, whether they are responsible for the disruption, or why the press conference appeared to have been hijacked.
Lawyers and the families had to stop and restart the press conference as a result of the disruption.
Global News has reached out to the two lawyers involved in the case, who were a part of the press conference when it was disrupted, for more clarity on what happened.
Eighty-five Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents died in the tragedy, which saw Iran fire on Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 moments after it took off from the Tehran airport on Jan. 8, 2020.
A total of 176 people died in the crash resulting from Iran’s actions.
Jonah Arnold, one of the lawyers representing the six families involved in the lawsuit, called the ruling by the court “precedent-setting” and the “first of its kind in Canada.”
He and fellow legal counsel Mark Arnold noted though that there is legal precedent for seizing and selling assets owned by the Iranian government in order to compensate victims of their actions.
They pointed to the 2017 case Tracy v. Iran as a previous example of an Ontario court ruling allowing the seizure of millions of dollars worth of non-diplomatic property owned by Iran, and noted while the legal team has identified some Iranian assets in Canada, no further strategies would be shared at this time.
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Getting justice has been a continued struggle for the families of the victims over the past two years.
Agnes Callamard, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, warned in a February 2021 report probing the tragedy that responses and explanations offered by Iranian officials “seem designed to create a maximum of confusion and a minimum of clarity.”
“They seem contrived to mislead and bewilder,” Callamard wrote at the time.
Her report determined that Iran had acted with “reckless disregard” and had “failed to follow the most basic standard procedures” for aviation safety.
Callamard was among those on the press conference call on Tuesday, and described the court ruling as a demonstration of the need to seek justice beyond the institutions of government.
“It is not governments who will deliver justice. It is victims with their lawyers and a good court. This is what has happened in this case,” Callamard said on the call.
“That is a typical example of why we need to be persistent and why we need to look beyond the official institutions of government for the delivery of justice.”
She added that she believes many of the governments involved have not adequately tried to hold Iran accountable, and simply want to move on two years after the downing of the plane.
“You have ensured this does not happen,” she said of the legal effort to pursue the Ontario case.