Canadian court rules Flight PS752 shootdown as “act of terrorism”


The Ontario Superior Court ruled that the missiles that shot down the Ukraine International Flight PS752 in Iran were fired intentionally in an act of terrorism.

On January 8, 2020, Ukrainian International Airlines Boeing 737 crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran International Airport, Iran, killing the 176 people on board. Among the 176 people, 82 were Iranians, while 63 were Canadians who were flying back home via Ukraine. The rest of the deceased were Ukrainian, Swedish, and British nationals.

In its final report, the Civil Aviation Organization of the Islamic Republic of Iran concluded that a “human error” was made while setting up a radar of the air defense system of Tehran. Because of that mistake, the path of Flight PS752 was shown as heading straight for Tehran, instead of away from the city. 

According to the Iranian military, missile defense systems were on high alert around Tehran that night. Hours before the crash, the Iranian military had launched over 12 missiles on U.S. bases in Iraq, in reprisal of the death of Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Iranian special services, in a drone strike. The Iran military was expecting retaliation from the United States. 

But for Judge Edward Belobaba, judge at the Superior Court of Justice in Ontario, the missiles were shot at a time when no armed conflict was raging In the region. Thus, he argued that the missiles were deliberately fired at Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752, in an act of terrorism. His ruling is based on two expert reports, one written by Ralph Goodale, Canada’s special advisor in this case, and the other signed by the United Nations Special Rapporteur.

Foreign states generally benefit from immunity in Canada where they cannot be sued in civil proceedings, with the exception of countries considered to support “terrorism.” That ruling will allow Canadian relatives of victims to claim compensation from Iran. Canada and Iran do not share formal diplomatic relations since 2012.

The Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs reacted to the court ruling, saying it was baseless and that Canada had no jurisdiction. “The verdict has no basis and does not have objective documents and reasons,” declared Saeed Khatibzadeh, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Everyone knows that the Canadian court has no jurisdiction over this air crash.”

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