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Ottawa opposes aircraft crash victims’ bid to grab former Iranian embassy property in Canada


The plaintiffs in a lawsuit over the destruction of Ukrainian International Airlines Flight PS752 are attempting to gather on a $107-million judgment issued in opposition to Iran

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A lawyer for victims of the airliner shot down by the Iranian army accused the federal authorities Friday of “standing in Iran’s shoes” by opposing a bid to grab Ottawa properties linked to Tehran’s former embassy in Canada.

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The plaintiffs in a lawsuit over the destruction of Ukrainian International Airlines Flight PS752 are attempting to gather on a $107-million judgment issued in opposition to Iran final December by an Ontario courtroom.

Diplomatic belongings are often exempt underneath the legislation from courtroom seizure however the plaintiffs argue the three Ottawa properties  — plus two financial institution accounts — haven’t been used for diplomatic functions for a decade and so usually are not lined by the availability.

Global Affairs Canada issued a certificates in December 2020 designating that the belongings are certainly diplomatic in nature, eradicating them as a goal for seizure.

A victim’s relative mourns in Kyiv, Ukraine, during a commemorative ceremony marking the first anniversary of the downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 downing in Iranian air space.
A sufferer’s relative mourns in Kyiv, Ukraine, throughout a commemorative ceremony marking the primary anniversary of the downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 downing in Iranian air house. Photo by Valentyn Ogirenko /Reuters information

Lawyer Mark Arnold, who’s spearheading the lawsuit on behalf of a number of victims’ households, went to courtroom Friday to argue the certificates ought to basically be dominated invalid.

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Jacqueline Dais-Visca, a federal Attorney General’s Ministry lawyer representing Global Affairs Canada, intervened, saying Arnold’s movement needs to be dismissed or no less than adjourned.

“The minister’s certificate … is conclusive proof of diplomatic status of the asset mentioned,” she mentioned.

In a sometimes-acrimonious on-line listening to, Arnold rejected that place and questioned why Ottawa was defending Iranian belongings from Canadians making an attempt to implement a courtroom ruling.

“The government of Canada now stands in the shoes of Iran, which belies their position of sympathy for the victims of this horrible tragedy,” mentioned the lawyer.

In an interview afterward, Arnold went additional.

“Canada is Iran’s proxy agent,” he charged. “They’re advocating on behalf of Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism that intentionally shot down an airliner.”

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Dais-Visca instructed the listening to the federal government acknowledges that the downing of PS752 is a “terrible tragedy” and is working with its companions in different nations to carry Iran accountable.

“Canada has credibility among its allies … partly because of its respect for the rule of law,” she mentioned.

But the problem of the diplomatic certificates was circuitously argued Friday, as Ontario Superior Court Justice Marie-Andrée Vermette adjourned that query on the request of Dais-Visca. Until the unique judgment and award of damages is served on Iran by diplomatic means — as required underneath the State Immunity Act — it will be untimely to debate methods to implement the judgment, she mentioned.

Some of the Canadian victims of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752, which was shot down by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps shortly after takeoff from Tehran on Jan. 8, 2020, killing all 176 aboard.
Some of the Canadian victims of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752, which was shot down by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps shortly after takeoff from Tehran on Jan. 8, 2020, killing all 176 aboard. Photo by Handout

The lawsuit considerations the January 2020 taking pictures down of PS752 by two Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps anti-aircraft missiles, killing all 176 aboard. The passengers included 55 Canadians, 30 everlasting residents and quite a few others heading right here after the Christmas break, many returning to post-secondary research.

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Iran says the aircraft’s destruction was a horrible mistake, although Canada and others have pointed to numerous holes in Tehran’s narrative and most of the victims’ family members imagine it was deliberate.

Canada’s State Immunity Act prevents most civil lawsuits in opposition to overseas nations, however in a considerably controversial ruling final 12 months, Justice Edward Belobaba mentioned the assault was intentional and constituted a terrorist deed underneath the Victims of Terrorism Act. Iran didn’t defend in opposition to the authorized motion, leading to what’s referred to as a default judgment. Tehran condemned the ruling as missing in jurisdiction and any actual proof.

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Belobaba later awarded the unique six plaintiffs $107 million in damages.

The problem for Arnold now, nonetheless, is to discover a approach to gather on the compensation.

For a begin, he has honed in on Iran’s former embassy on Metcalf Street, ambassador’s residence on Acacia Avenue and a condominium on Laurier Avenue. Tehran additionally holds accounts on the Royal Bank and Scotiabank.

The former embassy of Iran on Metcalfe Street in Ottawa after Canada suspended diplomatic relations with Iran in 2012.
The former embassy of Iran on Metcalfe Street in Ottawa after Canada suspended diplomatic relations with Iran in 2012. Photo by Wayne Cuddington /Ottawa Citizen

But the certificates issued Dec. 18, 2020, virtually a 12 months after the shoot-down, states that the belongings “continue to enjoy privileges and immunities under the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act.”

In their written arguments to the courtroom, the plaintiff attorneys mentioned the immunity the belongings as soon as loved ended after Canada broke off diplomatic relations with Iran in September 2012, expelling its representatives right here and shutting the Canadian mission in Tehran.

“There are no Iranian diplomats in Canada. There is no residence of an Iranian diplomat in Canada,” mentioned the doc. “Any premises or property of the mission no longer exist. There is no protection under the (legislation).”

Somewhat complicating issues is that 4 further households have been added to the lawsuit. Arnold utilized to have the damages award expanded to use to them, too, primarily based on the identical reasoning as used for the others.

Vermette reserved her determination on that difficulty.

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