The UK is among several nations launching a case against Iran at the United Nations’ highest court over the shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger jet and the deaths of all 176 on board in 2020.
It joins Ukraine, Canada and Sweden in wanting the International Court of Justice to rule Iran illegally shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 on 8 January that year.
The plane was travelling to Kyiv when it was downed just minutes after taking off from Iran’s capital city, Tehran.
The countries also want the court to order Iran to apologise and pay compensation to the families of the victims.
Those killed included nationals and residents of the UK, Ukraine, Canada and Sweden, as well as Afghanistan and Iran.
Their ages ranged from just one to 74 years old.
“Today’s legal action reflects our unwavering commitment to achieving transparency, justice and accountability for the families of the victim,” the countries said in a joint statement.
They said they had filed the case after Iran failed to respond to a December request for arbitration.
Iran admitted it ‘unintentionally’ shot down jet
After three days of denials in January 2020 Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards admitted they “unintentionally” shot down the passenger jet with two surface-to-air missiles.
Senior figures in Tehran had claimed the US was partly responsible for the crash, which happened hours after Iran launched ballistic missiles at two US bases in Iraq to avenge the killing of its top military general in an American airstrike.
An Iranian court this year sentenced an air defence commander allegedly responsible for the downing to 13 years imprisonment, according to the country’s official judiciary news outlet.
But the countries filing the case called the prosecution “a sham and opaque trial”.
According to the court filing, the UK, Ukraine, Canada and Sweden argue Iran “failed to take all practicable measures to prevent the unlawful and intentional commission of an offence” and “failed to conduct an impartial, transparent, and fair criminal investigation and prosecution consistent with international law.”
The filing also alleges Iran withheld or destroyed evidence, blamed other countries and low-level Revolutionary Guards personnel, “threatened and harassed the families of the victims seeking justice” and failed to report details of the incident to the International Civil Aviation Organisation.