Iran rejects Canadian court ruling that Tehran liable for downed Ukrainian plane

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FILE PHOTO: Mourners attend an outdoor vigil for the victims of a Ukrainian passenger jet which crashed in Iran, in Toronto

(Reuters) - Iran said on Friday a provincial Canadian court has no jurisdiction to rule on a claim for damages over the crash of a Ukrainian passenger plane downed by Iran's Revolutionary Guards last year.

The Superior Court of Justice of the Canadian province of Ontario ruled on Thursday that Iran owes damages to families who sued over the crash, which killed 176 people, 138 of them with ties to Canada.

"Everyone knows that the Canadian court has no jurisdiction over this air crash" since it occurred outside Canada, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters. His comments were carried by the ministry’s Telegram channel.

Also, he said, the ruling "is not based on eyewitness evidence."

The Iranian government has said the jet's downing in January 2020, soon after it took off from Tehran, was a "disastrous mistake" by forces who were on high alert during a confrontation with the United States.

Foreign states are not typically within the jurisdiction of Canadian courts, but a 2012 Canadian law limited that immunity for countries listed as "foreign state supporters of terrorism," including Iran.

The judge did not rule on damages, which will be dealt with at a future hearing. When it was first filed, the lawsuit sought at least $1.2 billion in compensation.

The lawsuit names Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, top commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and others.

Canada does not have formal diplomatic relations with Iran, and claiming damages will likely be lengthy and complex, but it has been done before.

(dubai.newsroom@thomsonreuters.com, Editing by William Maclean)

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