“Iran must be held accountable”: the families of the victims of the downed plane applaud the action of Canada and three other countries

Families of the victims of the shooting down of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 gathered in Toronto on Wednesday to show their support for four countries that have filed a complaint against Iran, saying they intentionally shot down the plane in January 2020.

Hamed Esmaeilion, who lost his wife and 7-year-old daughter in the incident, called the Iranian government’s simultaneous complaint against Canada “propaganda.”

The families, who gathered at the North York Central Library, said they have been seeking justice for more than three years.

Canada, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Ukraine officially filed a complaint against Iran at the International Court of Justice (The Hague) on Wednesday for “intentionally shooting down” the plane.

Fifty-five Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents were among the 176 people killed.

“Today’s legal action reflects our unwavering commitment to achieving transparency, justice and accountability for the families of the victims,” ​​the countries said in a joint statement on Wednesday. They said they brought the case after Iran failed to respond to a December request for arbitration.

“We will not accept any compensation until the truth and justice in this case is known,” said Esmaeilion, an Iranian-Canadian citizen who represents the Association of Families of Victims of Flight PS752.

Esmaeilion added that the Iranian government is using the defenseless passengers of the Ukrainian plane as a human shield to achieve foreign political demands.

In their complaint, the four countries asked the International Court of Justice to rule that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) “illegally shot down the Ukrainian plane and should apologize.” They also demanded compensation for the families of the victims.

“Iran must be held accountable for its actions and we will continue to fight for the transparency, accountability and justice that the families of the victims deserve,” Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly wrote on Twitter.

Iran filed a lawsuit against Canada at the UN International Court of Justice late last month.

In its case announced June 28 by the International Court of Justice, Tehran argued that Canada is “obligated to respect the jurisdictional immunity enjoyed by Iran under international law” and should not allow civil suits against Iran “for alleged support or acts of, terrorism.”

Canada should also not allow its courts to recognize foreign judgments in Iran-linked terrorism cases and has no right to seize Iranian property to enforce such judgments, the written document said.

Among the Canadian cases cited in Iran’s written submission is a judgment of the Superior Court of Ontario that the Iranian military’s shooting down of Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 with two surface-to-air missiles constituted an “act of terrorism.”

Flight PS752 was traveling from Tehran to kyiv on January 8, 2020 when it was shot down shortly after takeoff. Everyone on board was killed, their ages ranging from 1 to 74 years.

After three days of denials in January 2020, Iran said its paramilitary Revolutionary Guards mistakenly shot down the Ukrainian plane with two surface-to-air missiles. Iranian authorities blamed an air defense operator who they said mistook the Boeing 737-800 for a US cruise missile.

An Iranian court earlier this year sentenced the air defense commander allegedly responsible for the downing to 13 years in prison, according to the country’s official judicial outlet.

But the countries that brought the case to the world court in The Hague called the accusation “a false and opaque trial.”

The shootdown occurred the same day that Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on US troops in Iraq in retaliation for a US drone strike that killed a top Iranian general.

With archives from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press

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