The Ontario Superior Court on Friday awarded the five families of six victims more than $ 107 million for six victims of the tragedy, which left a total of 176 dead on January 8, 2020 at Tehran airport.
The press conference their lawyers organized on Tuesday was abruptly interrupted by pornographic images and blaring music.
Lawyer Mark Arnold was at the time calling on the Supreme Leader of Iran to summon him to pay compensation as provided for in the historic judgment of Judge Edward Belobaba.
Despite the coincidence of the act of piracy, his son, lawyer Jonah Arnold, was unwilling to speculate or point the finger at the Tehran regime for this unexplained interruption.
We will never give up, because the families of the victims cannot count on the government to help or protect them, explains Me Mark Arnold after describing the judge’s decision as
historical in the judicial records in Canada.
Jonah Arnold speaks of a first victory, but his joy did not hide his feelings towards the grieving families in this drama.
We still feel so much empathy for the families just days before the second anniversary of the tragedy, he continues.
Me Jonah Arnold says the amount given to his clients is substantial, although symbolic for now, and that it should serve as a warning to any country committing the same blunder.
It is above all an unequivocal message to the Iranian authorities to let them know that their conduct and silence in this affair will no longer be tolerated., he specifies.
An unprecedented judgment
The civil lawsuit against Iran was notably filed by Shahin Moghaddam, who lost his wife and son in the tragedy of the Ukrainian Airlines International flight.
The magistrate had ruled in the first part of his judgment in May 2021 that the destruction of the civilian plane after taking off from Tehran airport was
an intentional act of terrorism.
In the last part of his judgment, which he delivered last Friday, he ordered the Iranian regime to pay more than 107 million dollars to the plaintiffs.
The portion of the restitution hearings were held before a judge alone in late fall and not before a jury because of the pandemic.
Mr. Mark Arnold does not believe that the judgment on compensation will give false hope to the five families he represents and that the judgment is in itself a historic precedent in Canada.
Mr. Moghaddam agrees.
It is not a question of money but of justice, because no financial compensation can bring our loved ones back to life, he said.
He nevertheless admits that the family won their case and that this victory in court allowed him to sleep soundly for the first time.
I was crying with joy and sadness, I didn’t know what to do when I heard the news last Saturday, it was both crazy and complicated, he recalls.
The difficulty of seizing assets
Me Mark Arnold refuses, however, to communicate how he intends to go about getting his hands on Iranian assets in Canada or abroad.
He nevertheless clarified that Iran has assets in Ontario, Nova Scotia and British Columbia, but he does not want to reveal their nature either.
The lawyer adds that he is in communication with other lawyers in the world to achieve his ends (the victims of flight PS752 were not only Canadian, but also British, Swedish, Ukrainian, Afghan and Iranian, Editor’s note) .
Mark Arnold acknowledges that it will not be easy to obtain the remedies ordered by the Ontario court and that he intends to go to courts of outside jurisdiction to achieve it.
We are very confident to make it happen, he said.
Some arrows against Ottawa
Mr. Arnold also castigates Ottawa for an approach that he described as
difficult and is sorry to see that the federal government has been silent for two years throughout this legal action.
Canada was neither transparent nor of any assistance in this appeal, in addition to having misled the courts on the sanctions it intended to adopt against Iran., he emphasizes.
The lawyer says, however, that it is not too late and begs Ottawa to use the recent judgment to negotiate an agreement with Tehran on a global amount of financial compensation to be granted to all the families of the 63 Canadians who were killed in the tragedy.
Iran, whose authorities have been tried and convicted in absentia in Ontario, had previously said Judge Belobaba’s decision was without merit.