The shooting down of a Ukrainian Airlines passenger plane over Tehran last January was an intentional act of terrorism, a Canadian court has ruled.
A judgement issued by Ontario's Superior Court of Justice on Thursday declared that the shooting down of Ukrainian Airlines Flight PS752 by Iran on January 8, 2020 had been deliberate.
All 176 passengers and crew onboard the plane were killed in the disaster. More than 80 of the passengers were Iranian, 63 were Canadian, three were British, four were Afghan, 10 were Swedish, and three were German.
The plane was downed by two missiles fired by Iran’s paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) due to what was described by Iran as a technical error.
"The plaintiffs have established that the shooting down of Flight 752 by the defendants was an act of terrorism and constitutes 'terrorist activity',” Justice Edward Belobaba wrote in his decision issued on Thursday.
The case was brought by four victims’ families. Iran did not defend itself in court or refute the evidence presented, making this a default judgement.
The plaintiffs were represented by litigation lawyer Mark Arnold, who told Canadian broadcaster CBC News that Iranian assets in Canada and internationally, including oil tankers, could potentially be seized.
"We will be looking internationally to seize whatever it is we can seize once we have a determination of what the level of compensation is," he said.
The downing of the plane took place during a period of heightened tension between Iran and the United States due to Iran having fired on US military bases and the US’s assassination of top IRGC general Ghassem Soleimani.
Despite this, the court heard, there was no armed conflict in the region at the time and “on the balance of probabilities”, Justice Belobaba found the incident was a terrorist act under Canada’s State Immunity Act, Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act and Criminal Code.
The Canadian government is also due to release its own forensic analysis of the crash in the coming weeks, with its own factual findings on the tragedy.