[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 16 October 2006, 13:26 GMT 14:26 UK
UK hostages describe Kuwait ordeal
John Chappell
Mr Chappell said he is still haunted by the experience
UK airline passengers taken hostage by Iraqi troops in Kuwait in 1990 have called for a public inquiry and spoken about their ordeal.

About 350 passengers on British Airways flight 149 thought they were refuelling in Kuwait en route to Madras and Kuala Lumpur.

But it was the first day of Saddam Hussein's occupation of Kuwait and most of them did not leave the country for five months, held as "human shields" at strategic sites.

Sixteen years on they are calling for a public inquiry and compensation, saying the government of the time knew of the dangers. And some have been reflecting on what happened.

John Chappell, who was 14 at the time he, his sister and parents were taken hostage, said: "A friend of mine saw someone shot with an AK47.

"My sister saw tanks driving over cars with people in them."

Mental scars

Of his own experience, Mr Chappell, now 30, said: "We were taken to our camp and we had to clean dog and human faeces out of receptacles and off surfaces before we could live there.

"The food had to be scraped free of foreign objects before we could eat it."

These people were put through a terrible time
Stephen Davis, journalist

Mr Chappell's sister Jennifer, who was 12 when taken hostage, said: "No amount of money is ever going to give us back 16 years of our lives."

She added: "It took away any innocence and, there and then, my childhood ended.

"I've had 16 years of psychological problems."

Paul Dieppe, a medic who was en route to a conference in Malaysia when the plane landed, said: "I found I couldn't practise medicine when I got back.

"I came back a different person. Almost all of us on that plane have had similar problems."

'Rape'

Journalist Stephen Davis alleges that the UK government allowed the plane to land so that nine spies could enter Kuwait.

He told a Westminster press conference that the information gathered had saved many lives, but that the hostages taken deserved compensation and a public inquiry.

Mr Davis said some of those held by Iraq had been raped and had been subjected to mock executions.

Saddam Hussein and hostages
Iraq used some hostages as human shields

He added: "These people were put through a terrible time. Governments have covered up and lied about it ever since."

The Foreign Office has said the government's position has already been outlined to Parliament and it is not prepared to discuss intelligence matters.

Margaret Thatcher was prime minister at the time and she told the Commons the invasion happened after the plane was permitted to land.

Her successor John Major has denied the Conservative government knew of any military personnel being on the plane.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
One of the hostages explains why he wants an inquiry



SEE ALSO

RELATED BBC LINKS



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific