Families of Flight PS752 victims submit request for the International Criminal Court Prosecutor to examine Iran’s role in the shootdown of Ukraine Airlines International Flight 752

Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today, the Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims (the Association) submitted an Article 15 Communication to Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) which provided information and evidence to the OTP about crimes that occurred on board Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 (flight PS752) that were committed by the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). The Association requested that the OTP include these crimes in its investigation of the situation in Ukraine.

The request was submitted in accordance with Article 15 of the Rome Statute, alleging that perpetrators from the Islamic Republic of Iran and its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps have committed certain war crimes and crimes against humanity against the passengers and crew of flight PS752 and their surviving family members. The crimes include the war crimes of wilful killing, intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population or civilian objects, outrages upon personal dignity and pillage, as well as the crimes against humanity of murder and ‘other inhumane acts’. The request includes the evidence of victims directly impacted by the shootdown of flight PS752 and the actions of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps preceding and following the shootdown.

Although Iran is not a State Party to the ICC’s Rome Statute, jurisdiction for the OTP to consider the request and examine the alleged crimes is applicable because flight PS752 is an aircraft registered to Ukraine, which has accepted the Court’s jurisdiction over crimes committed on its territory since 21 November 2013. The Court has jurisdiction over crimes committed on board an aircraft registered to a State that has accepted its jurisdiction, and the OTP has clarified that this includes situations in which an attack is launched from a non-State party onto the territory of a State with jurisdiction before the ICC.

The Association’s request is the first Article 15 communication sent to the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court alleging responsibility of perpetrators from the Islamic Republic of Iran and its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps for conduct surrounding the shootdown of flight PS752.

Hamed Esmaeilion, Association President and Spokesperson, stated that: “We have waited nearly 1,000 days for progress to be made in our pursuit of justice for our loved ones whose lives were horrifically ended. In the absence of concrete action from affected countries and a complete lack of accountability from the Iranian Regime, it falls on our shoulders to take this to an international forum where they can be held accountable. The Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims has worked tirelessly, some of us putting our careers on hold, to dedicate our time to pursuing justice through any avenue available to us. We feel this is our responsibility and remain committed to it for the memory and honour of those whose lives were lost.”

Javad Soleimani, Chair of the Association’s Fact-Finding Committee, stated that: “The Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims believes that justice is not negotiable. The Fact-Finding Report that we released in November of 2021 reinforced why we need help from governments to bring clarification and understanding to the events that led to the downing of Flight PS752. This crime is not just a combination of coincidences and that’s why we need a day in court, not negotiation with Iran who has deceptively and systematically attempted to cover up what happened.

Amirali Alavi, Director and Chair of the Association’s Legal Committee, stated that: “There was never an impartial criminal and safety investigation into the downing of Flight PS752. This has added countless obstacles and delays to this case and ultimately, has been detrimental to advancing the necessary legal and political processes. It is unacceptable that Iran has not been held fully accountable to date for what happened, and we are hopeful that our next steps can change that.

Background on Flight PS752: On January 8, 2020, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps shot at least two missiles at flight PS752, killing all 176 people on board and an unborn child. The victims were citizens of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Canada, Ukraine, Sweden, Afghanistan, and the United Kingdom.

Only four hours earlier on the same day, the Islamic Republic of Iran had attacked bases in Iraq housing United States troops in retaliation for the killing of General Ghassem Soleimani on January 3, 2020. The government kept Iranian airspace open despite the grave risk to civilian flights operating that day, especially those near military targets in close proximity to the airport in Tehran. It was in this context that flight PS752 was shot down by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, a fact which the Islamic Republic of Iran initially denied. The government’s subsequent investigations have been characterized by obfuscation, refusals to cooperate with the international community and a lack of transparency. Evidence was mishandled and destroyed at the crash site, belongings of the victims were tampered with after collection and the bodies of some of the victims of the shootdown were mistreated and not properly identified, with some families receiving body parts that did not match their loved ones.

The families of the victims killed in the shootdown have been intimidated and harassed by Iranian authorities in the aftermath of the shootdown. The Islamic Republic of Iran has also cracked down on protesters and mourners in Iran, even detaining many and imposing harsh prison sentences. In the face of such obstacles, the Association is committed to finding out the truth and seeking justice through all available legal means.

Gissou Nia, a lawyer on the legal team making the request and Director of the Strategic Litigation Project at the Atlantic Council, stated that: “The safety of international civil aviation depends in large part on the understanding that civilians are off-limits and not to be weaponized for political or military gains. Given the regularity of civilian air travel and the necessity to take routes through many different countries on any flight path, there is an implicit understanding by States that this mode and means of transportation should be protected, for the benefit of all. When the officials of a State breach those obligations, it is critical that an impartial, independent investigation take place—an investigation the ICC is well placed to do given that the victims of this crime were nationals from different countries with links all around the world.”

Haydee Dijkstal, a UK Barrister at 33 Bedford Row Chambers in London, and a lawyer on the legal team making the request, stated that: “The International Criminal Court was created to end impunity for crimes which have evaded justice. The goal of raising this case before the ICC, is to find the truth and seek justice for the victims of flight PS752 and their families, and the fact that the crimes were committed on a Ukrainian aircraft opens the door to examining the crimes under the ICC’s jurisdiction over Rome Statute crimes committed on Ukrainian territory. The ICC’s jurisdiction over these crimes provides hope that after more than two and half years, the families of the victims of flight PS752 might see those most responsible held to account.”

For further inquiries in either English or Persian, or to arrange an interview, please contact the following at:

Hamed Esmaeilion
President & Spokesperson, The Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims

Oliveah Numan
Sussex Strategy Group

Gissou Nia
Director, Strategic Litigation Project, Atlantic Council

Haydee Dijkstal
Barrister, 33 Bedford Row Chambers

This announcement is available in Farsi: http://ml.globenewswire.com/Resource/Download/5ce0e6b1-a9c3-4f25-8bc8-7318c1122472 


PS752 press release - Farsi.pdf