Abused, Starved and Raped: British Airways Charged in 33-Year-Old Hostage Case


Fifty passengers and crew members of a British Airways flight who were taken hostage in Kuwait in 1990 want to take the British government and the airline to court. According to the victims’ lawyers, they knew the risk, but the flight was not diverted.


Back to August 2, 1990. Flight BA149 was en route from London to Kuala Lumpur and stopped in Kuwait to drop off a particular British army unit. Just hours earlier, Iraqi troops had invaded the country. It was the start of the Gulf War.

All 367 people on board the plane were taken hostage by Iraqi soldiers and, after a brief stay in a hotel, transported to Baghdad to be used by Saddam Hussein’s regime as a human shield against attacks by Western forces.

The British government claimed that responsibility for the hostage-taking lay squarely with the Iraqi authorities at the time. British Airways, for its part, claimed to be unaware of the impending invasion.

But documents released two years ago show the British ambassador warned the Foreign Office that Iraqi troops had crossed the border into Kuwait. That information would never have been communicated to British Airways, so the flight was not diverted.

50 victims are therefore suing the British government and the airline. According to McCue Jury and Partners, the law firm representing them, both parties were aware of the invasion.

“With the lawsuit, the victims want the truth to come to light fully,” it said. “Some passengers and crew members were even held captive for up to four months. They were abused, starved and raped.”

The case will be heard before the British Supreme Court in early 2024. Each victim wants compensation of an average of 170,000 pounds.

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