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Iran files lawsuit against Canada over state immunity dispute at United Nations’ top court

Iran initiates legal action against Canada at the highest UN court, alleging violation of state immunity by permitting terrorism victims’ relatives to pursue compensation from the Islamic Republic.

According to the case presented by the International Court of Justice on Wednesday, Tehran asserts that Canada is “obligated to adhere to Iran’s jurisdictional immunity as stipulated by international law” and should refrain from allowing civil claims related to alleged terrorism support or acts.

The written filing also asserts that Canada must not recognize foreign judgments in terrorism cases involving Iran and lacks the authority to seize Iranian assets to enforce such judgments.

One of the Canadian cases cited in Iran’s filing is a ruling by the Ontario Superior Court, which classified the downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 by the Iranian military on January 8, 2020, using two surface-to-air missiles as an “act of terrorism.” The incident resulted in the tragic loss of all 176 individuals aboard.

The Canadian citizenship or residency of over 100 Iranian victims prompted certain families to sue Iran in a Canadian civil court.

The classification of the incident as an act of terror enabled the affected families to bypass Iran’s legal immunity and pursue compensation for their losses. Typically, foreign nations are exempt from lawsuits in Canadian courts.

The court awarded a total of 107 million Canadian dollars, including 7 million Canadian dollars in compensatory damages and 100 million Canadian dollars in punitive damages, along with interest, to the families who initiated the lawsuit in Ontario.

Just prior to the downing, Iran launched ballistic missiles at American bases in Iraq in retaliation for the US drone strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, a top Iranian general, in Baghdad.

Following days of denial, Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard publicly apologized for the incident, attributing it to an air defense operator’s error who, they claimed, mistook the Boeing 737-800 for an American cruise missile.

Iran’s case at the international court, situated in The Hague’s Peace Palace, is expected to be a protracted process. The court’s verdicts are final and hold legal authority.

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