The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has awarded over $142 million to the families of eight passengers aboard Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 who died when the plane was shot down over Iran more than three years ago.
The court sided with the families in their lawsuit against Iran, as well as the country’s supreme leader and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps that argued the defendants were responsible for an act of terrorism and the families’ resulting harm and loss.
In his decision, Justice David Stinson ruled that the families successfully established the shootdown “constitutes ‘terrorist activity'” under Canadian law and were entitled to damages.
The total includes more than $16 million to each family in punitive damages, and an additional $1 million each for pain and suffering.
Some of the families were also awarded between $150,000 and $200,000 for each victim for loss of guidance, care and companionship. Those families lost siblings, spouses or, in one case, a 22-year-old daughter.
Flight 752 was travelling from Tehran to Kyiv on Jan. 8, 2020 when it was shot down soon after takeoff. The 176 passengers and crew members killed included 55 Canadian citizens, 30 permanent residents and others with ties to Canada, as well as people from Sweden, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Afghanistan and Iran. Their ages ranged from one to 74 years old.
Iran has concluded the surface-to-air missiles that shot down the plane were fired by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, but has maintained the act was a mistake, which the Canadian government and the victims have refused to accept.
Stinson’s judgment, issued Monday, comes after an earlier decision in the Ontario Superior Court last year that awarded the families of six other victims of the tragedy a combined $107 million.
Taken together, the two judgments have awarded families nearly $250 million.
Iran did not defend itself in either civil case, making the decisions default judgments.
Questions will now turn to how or whether the families will ever see any of that money.
Mark Arnold, an attorney for the families in both Ontario civil cases, noted in a statement to Global News on Tuesday that some of the victims’ families are suing to seek the seizure of Iranian assets in Canada and abroad to satisfy the damage awards.
But he claimed the federal government is “aggressively opposed” to that suit by asserting in court the assets sought by the families remain diplomatic, and would therefore be immune from court seizures.
Arnold said that although he and his fellow attorneys were pleased with the latest ruling, “they seek support not opposition from the Government of Canada in their efforts to recover sufficient Iranian assets to satisfy the judgments.”
Canada severed official diplomatic ties with Iran in 2012. The former Iranian embassy in Ottawa remains unoccupied and has been the site of many domestic protests against the Iranian state, including demands for justice over Flight 752.
Canada, the U.K., Sweden and Ukraine launched a case against Iran at the International Criminal Court last month seeking reparations for the families, as well as to prosecute those responsible for the shootdown.
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