Passengers and staff on a British Airways flight who were taken hostage in Kuwait in 1990 take the British government and airline to court after 33 years. This was reported by the British law firm McCue Jury & Partners, which represents about fifty victims.
Flight BA149 was en route from London to Kuala Lumpur on 2 August 1990, stopping in Kuwait to drop off a British Army Special Forces (SAS) unit, just hours after Iraqi forces invaded the country.
Iraqi soldiers took the passengers hostage, and after a short stay in a hotel, they were transferred to Baghdad to be used as human shields against attacks by Western forces. Some of the 367 passengers and crew were even detained for up to four months. According to the law firm, they were abused, starved and raped.
The British government has always maintained that responsibility for the hostage-taking lies squarely with the regime of then Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. British Airways has consistently said it was not aware of the impending invasion.
However, documents released in 2021 show that the British ambassador warned the government that Iraqi forces had crossed the border into Kuwait. However, the flight was not diverted, according to British Airways, because the company was not informed of this.
Through the lawsuit, the victims want “the truth to come out,” according to their lawyers. They claim to have evidence that not only the British government, but also British Airways, were already aware of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
“The British government and British Airways have sacrificed the lives and safety of innocent civilians to support a military operation,” said Matthew Jury, partner at Maco Jury & Partners. In the British newspaper The Independent. “They both hid and denied the truth for more than thirty years. The victims and survivors of Flight BA149 deserve justice because they were used as collateral.
The case will be brought before the British Supreme Court in early 2024. Victims are seeking compensation amounting to an average of 170,000 pounds sterling (about 198,000 euros) per person.
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