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Canadian Court Awards $84 Million To Relatives Of Six People Killed In Downing Of Passenger Plane By Iran


People attend a vigil for those killed when a Ukraine International Airlines flight was shot down by Iran January 8, 2020. (file photo)

A Canadian court has awarded $84 million to the families of six people who died when Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) downed a Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) plane two years ago.

All 176 people onboard were killed when the IRGC shot down the airliner in January 2020 shortly after takeoff from Tehran’s airport. More than 130 of the passengers had ties to Canada. Citizens or residents of Afghanistan, Britain, Iran, Ukraine, and Sweden were also killed.

The relatives awarded compensation in the ruling announced on January 3 had filed a civil lawsuit against Iran and other officials they believe were to blame for the incident.

The plaintiffs lost spouses, siblings, children, nieces, and nephews aboard the flight, their lawyer, Mark Arnold, said in a statement on January 3. Iran did not defend itself in court, making it a default judgment.

Arnold said his team will look to seize Iranian assets, including oil tankers, in Canada and abroad to cover the award. He said his team will be looking to seize whatever it can.

The decision by Ontario's Superior Court of Justice was dated December 31 and announced by Arnold. The same court ruled in May that the destruction of the commercial plane was an intentional act of terrorism.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry denounced the May ruling as "shameful" and said the court's decision lacked legitimate evidence. Iran also has rejected Canadian class action lawsuits related to the downing of the flight, arguing that Canadian courts have no jurisdiction and insisting that all judicial proceedings be conducted inside Iran.

A Canadian forensic team report last year accused Iran of incompetence and recklessness over the downing of the passenger plane.

The report found that while the downing of the plane had not been premeditated, it did not absolve Iranian officials of responsibility. Iran criticized the report as "highly politicized."

Iranian authorities initially denied responsibility but later admitted to inadvertently shooting down the Kyiv-bound plane after mistaking the Boeing jet for a U.S. missile while Iranian forces were on high alert during a confrontation with the United States.

Iran was on edge after it fired missiles at Iraqi bases housing U.S. forces in retaliation for the killing of its most powerful military commander, Qassem Soleimani, in a U.S. drone strike at Baghdad airport.

Iran fired the missiles on January 8, 2020, -- five days after the strike that killed Soleimani. The same night, the UIA flight was downed by Iranian surface-to-air missiles.

With reporting by Reuters, CBC, and BBC
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