UK, Canada, Sweden, Ukraine take Iran to top UN court over 2020 downing of a Ukrainian passenger jet

Flight PS752 was traveling from Tehran to Kyiv on Jan. 8, 2020 when it was shot down soon after takeoff.

July 06, 2023 02:50 am | Updated 02:50 am IST - THE HAGUE, Netherlands

FILE PHOTO: General view of the debris of the Ukraine International Airlines, flight PS752, Boeing 737-800 plane that crashed after take-off from Iran’s Imam Khomeini airport, on the outskirts of Tehran, Iran January 8, 2020 is seen in this screen grab obtained from a social media video via REUTERS

FILE PHOTO: General view of the debris of the Ukraine International Airlines, flight PS752, Boeing 737-800 plane that crashed after take-off from Iran’s Imam Khomeini airport, on the outskirts of Tehran, Iran January 8, 2020 is seen in this screen grab obtained from a social media video via REUTERS | Photo Credit: VIA REUTERS

The United Kingdom, Canada, Sweden and Ukraine launched a case against Iran at the United Nations' highest court Wednesday over the downing in 2020 of a Ukrainian passenger jet and the deaths of all 176 passengers and crew.

The four countries want the International Court of Justice to rule that Iran illegally shot down the Ukraine International Airlines plane and to order Tehran to apologize and pay compensation to the families of the victims.

Flight PS752 was traveling from Tehran to Kyiv on Jan. 8, 2020 when it was shot down soon after takeoff. The people killed included nationals and residents of Canada, Sweden, Ukraine and the United Kingdom, as well as Afghanistan and Iran. Their ages ranged from 1 year to 74 years old.

“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 Wednesday. They said they filed the case after Iran failed to respond to a December request for arbitration.

Following three days of denials in In January 2020, Iran said its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard mistakenly downed 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 an American cruise missile.

An Iranian court this year sentenced an air defense commander allegedly responsible for the downing to 13 years imprisonment, according to the country’s official judiciary news outlet.

But the countries that filed the case with the world court in The Hague called the prosecution "a sham and opaque trial."

According to the court filing published Wednesday, the U.K., Canada, Sweden and Ukraine argue that Iran “failed to take all practicable measures to prevent the unlawful and intentional commission of an offense” and “failed to conduct an impartial, transparent, and fair criminal investigation and prosecution consistent with international law.”

The filing alleges that Iran withheld or destroyed evidence, blamed other countries and low level Revolutionary Guard personnel, “threatened and harassed the families of the victims seeking justice" and failed to report details of the incident to the International Civil Aviation Organization.

The downing happened on the same day Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on U.S. troops in Iraq in retaliation for an American drone strike that killed a top Iranian general.

Last week, Iran filed a case against Canada linked to the downing, accusing the North American nation of flouting state immunity in allowing relatives of terrorism victims to seek reparations from the Islamic Republic.

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