Nearly two years ago, on January 8, 2020, Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, also known as Flight PS752, was shot down by Iranian surface-to-air missiles shortly after taking off from Tehran—the capital of Iran.
The tragedy claimed the lives of all 167 passengers and nine crew members on board, including 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents. Among the victims were eight U of T students.
It was not until January 3 that the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled to award $107 million to the families of the six Flight PS752 victims, offering them some form of remediation for what they have been through. This occurs after a previous court ruling in May 2021 that declared Flight PS752 to be an intentional act of terrorism by Iran.
According to a factual analysis on Flight PS752 reported on June 24, 2021, it was found that while the flight was delayed due to baggage handling issues, there was no evidence of aircraft systems malfunction, and the plane flew along its pre-approved course.
In essence, the report indicated that Iran’s military forces, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IGRC) were the main cause of the incident. They reported having misidentified Flight PS752 as a cruise missile, triggering a false alarm that prompted the use of artilleries for defence.
Possible reasons for the tragedy’s occurrence could be that Iran’s military was on high alert during that period. At the time, tensions between Iranian and US Coalition forces were increasing, with several missiles being fired from Iran into Iraq a matter of hours before Flight PS752 departed Tehran.
The compensation allots $100 million to recompense for “punitive damages,” $6 million to compensate for “pain and suffering,” and $1 million to compensate for the loss of companionship and guidance.
However, whether the compensation will reach the hands of the plaintiffs is still in question.
In November, Iran reportedly refused to negotiate with Canada and other countries about reparations after the country received a notice of claim in June. Iran also missed the crucial deadline of January 5 that was given for negotiations requests. The next actions taken by the countries seeking reparations from Iran are yet to be declared.
Additionally, the Ontario court’s ruling in May 2021 that classified Flight PS752 as an act of terrorism attracted Canadian terrorism law experts. Experts believe that while offering condolences and sympathy to the families of victims is paramount, the ruling itself contained several legal flaws. Given that Canada is a democratic nation, this presented various questions.
On Twitter, U of T tweeted about the second anniversary of Flight PS752, where President Meric Gertler shared his condolences on behalf of the university to families, friends, and colleagues of the victims. Photos of the eight U of T Flight PS752 victims were posted along with the tweet for remembrance.
What happens next regarding the reparations for Flight PS752 is to be determined. Yet, regardless of the result, all efforts must be made to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.