In a judgment released on Thursday, Justice Edward Belobaba found "on a balance of probabilities that the missile attacks on Flight 752 were intentional."
"The plaintiffs have established that the shooting down of Flight 752 by the defendants was an act of terrorism and constitutes 'terrorist activity,'" the judge added, according to Global News.
In the ruling, the Ontario court judge relied on two experts, one of whom concluded that the Revolutionary Guards "knew Flight PS 752 was a civilian airplane and purposefully shot it down with the intent to destroy it."
The judge issued the default judgment against Iran in a civil suit brought by four families of those killed aboard the UIA passenger jet.
Read alsoUkraine joins UK, Canada, Sweden statement on PS752 downing by IranIran was served with the court papers through Global Affairs Canada, but did not defend itself in the proceedings.
The case names Iran, the Revolutionary Guards, the Iranian Armed Forces and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, among others, as defendants.
The decision effectively allows the families in Canada to seek damages from Iran.
The Ontario judge noted that former public safety minister Ralph Goodale's report on the tragedy had rejected Iran's claim that the missile launches were the result of human error by members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC.
"Those claims allege that the missile defense battery made a 107-degree directional error, that IRGC personnel lost all contact with the command center for several crucial seconds and the operators, 'mistook a [130- foot] long commercial passenger jet taking off and ascending from east to west for some sort of threatening aircraft or missile coming in from west to east,'" according to the decision.
Since the incident, Canada has called for a thorough probe of what happened, but Iran has dragged its heels on co-operating with international investigators.
The crash site was disrupted and contaminated, Goodale wrote in his report to the prime minister, and there were "instances of harassment and intimidation directed toward some of the victims' families – including interventions at funerals, the withholding of personal effects, disturbing communications, stalking, detentions and interrogations."
Read alsoKuleba slams Iran for "manipulation" in PS752 downing report, failure to consider Ukraine's remarksAn audio recording of a phone call also "suggested Iran's airspace remained open throughout the relevant period to avoid disrupting scheduled traffic or tipping off the Americans about Iranian military activity."
PS752 downing: Background
- On January 8, 2020, Kyiv-bound Boeing 737 passenger jet flight PS752, operated by Ukraine International Airlines, crashed in Iran shortly after takeoff from Tehran Airport.
- All 176 people on board, including 11 Ukrainian nationals – nine crew and two passengers – were killed. Among victims are also citizens of Iran, Canada, Sweden, Afghanistan, Germany, and the UK.
- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani admitted that the Ukrainian liner had been shot down as a result of an unintentional "human error," and promised to bring those responsible to justice.
- On June 9, media reports said Iran had accused six persons in the PS752 downing case.
- On July 20, the flight recorders were delivered to Paris and decrypted on July 21.
- On July 24, it was reported that data from the black boxes had confirmed external interference with the aircraft's operation.
- On October 23, Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Yevhen Yenin said Iran would pay compensation to the relatives of victims of the UIA flight PS752 crash, but the process might last up to two years.
- On December 9, however, Yenin said that Iran had withdrawn the offer to handle the payments to the families of those killed in the UIA plane crash.
- In the middle of December, Canada expressed its position on the Iranian investigation into the downing of the Ukrainian plane, saying it is not credible.
- On December 22, the Iranian news agency Tasnim reported that Iranian investigators, during a video conference, had provided representatives of other countries whose citizens were victims of the crash with a technical report on the UIA downing.
- On December 23, Yenin said Ukraine had not received the report.
- On December 24, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba expressed concern that Iran was delaying the negotiation process on the case of the downed Ukraine International Airlines plane. He noted that Ukraine had not received a technical report from Iran on the plane downed almost a year ago.
- On December 30, Iranian cabinet members reportedly agreed at a session to allocate US$150,000 or its equivalent in euros to each family of the victims of the Ukrainian plane crash in January 2020.
- On January 7, 2021, Rouhani said all those responsible for the downing of the plane would be brought to justice.
- The Canadian government and security agencies are reviewing an audio recording in which a man – identified by sources as Iran's foreign affairs minister – discusses the possibility that the destruction of Flight PS752 was an intentional act.
- On Iranian Military Prosecutor's Office has completed a pre-trial investigation into the incident, Iranian media reported February 21.