The court awarded C$7 million in damages and C$100 million in punitive damages, plus interest, to the families who filed the suit in Ontario, according to Canadian media, citing the Associated Press (AP).
“This court is well aware that torts are a poor substitute for lives lost,” Judge Edward Bilobaba said in his December 31 ruling.
Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, connecting Tehran and Kiev, crashed in Iran on January 8, 2020, after being hit by surface-to-air missiles, killing all 176 people on board, most of them Iranians.
More than 100 of the Iranian victims held Canadian citizenship or residency, prompting some families to sue Iran in a Canadian civil court.
The incident came just days after the Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, was killed in a drone attack in Baghdad.
Just hours before the Ukrainian passenger plane incident, Iran launched ballistic missiles at US bases in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of the commander of the elite force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
After days of denial, the Revolutionary Guards publicly apologized for the crash and blamed an air defense operator who said it misused the Boeing 737-800 for a US cruise missile.
Last year, the Ontario Supreme Court ruled that the passenger plane crash constituted an “act of terrorism,” allowing families to bypass Iran’s legal immunity and claim compensation for their losses. Foreign countries usually enjoy immunity from prosecution in Canadian courts.
It remains unclear how the compensation will be paid, but the decision carries symbolic meaning for families who have complained about the lack of transparency and accountability in the Iranian investigation and their inability to seek justice in Iran.
The Canadian Press quoted a statement by family lawyers praising the court’s decision as “unprecedented in Canadian law”.
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