UTA Flight 772

UTA Flight 772

Infobox Airliner accident
name = UTA Flight 772

caption = Route taken by UTA Flight 772.
Date = September 19 1989
Type = Explosive device
Site = Sahara Desert
Coordinates = coord|16|54|N|11|59|E|region:NE_type:landmark_scale:30000000|display=inline|display=inline,title
Fatalities = 170
Injuries = 0
Aircraft Type= McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30
Origin = Maya-Maya Airport
Last stopover= N'Djamena International Airport
Destination = Charles De Gaulle International Airport
Operator = Union des Transports Aériens (UTA)
Tail Number = N54629
Passengers = 156
Crew = 14
Survivors = 0

UTA Flight 772 of the French airline, Union des Transports Aériens, was a scheduled flight operating from Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo, via N'Djamena in Chad, to Paris CDG airport in France.

On September 19, 1989, the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 aircraft [http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19890919-1 registered N54629] took off from N'Djamena International Airport at 13:13 hours. Forty six minutes later, at its cruising altitude of 35,000 feet, an explosion caused UTA Flight 772 to break up over the Sahara Desert near the towns of Bilma and Ténéré in Niger. All 156 passengers and 14 crew members died, including Bonnie Pugh, wife of the American ambassador to Chad, Robert Pugh." [http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/01-15-2008/0004737189&EDATE= Court Awards US Victims More Than $6 Billion for 1989 Libyan Terrorist Bombing of French Airliner That Killed 170 People Over African Desert] "]


On the flight deck were Captain Georges Raveneau, First Officer Jean-Pierre Hennequin, Flight Engineer Alain Bricout. In the Cabin, Pursers Jean-Pierre Baschung and Michele Vasseur along with Flight Attendants Alain Blanc, Laurence de Boery-Penon,Martine Brette, Anne Claisse, Nicole Deblicker, Ethery Lenoble, Gael Lugagne, Veronique Marella, Jean-Pierre Mauboussin.

The victims came from 18 different countries, the majority being French or Congolese nationals: 54 French, 48 nationals of Rép. of Congo, 25 Chadians, 9 Italians, 7 Americans, 5 Cameronians, 4 Britons, 3 nationals of Democratic Republic of the Congo, 3 Canadians, 2 Central Africans, 2 Malians, 2 Swiss, 1 Algerian, 1 Bolivian, 1 Belgian, 1 Greek, 1 Moroccan and 1 Senegalese.


An investigation commission of the ICAO determined that an improvised explosive device (IED) placed in a container in location 13-R in the forward cargo hold caused the destruction of the aircraft. The commission suggested that the most plausible hypothesis was for the IED to have been inside the baggage loaded at Brazzaville airport. Initial speculation over which groups might have been responsible for destroying UTA Flight 772 centered upon Islamic Jihad, who were quick to claim responsibility for the attack, and the "Secret Chadian Resistance" rebel group, which opposed president Hissen Habré. [ [http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19890919-1 UTA Flight 772: Aviation Safety Network report] ] Five years previously, on March 10, 1984, an IED destroyed another UTA aircraft from Brazzaville shortly after the DC-8 had landed at N'Djamena airport. There were no fatalities on that occasion and those responsible were never identified. [ [http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19840310-0 UTA DC-8: Aviation Safety Network report] ]

Parallels with PA 103

Wreckage of the aircraft was sent to France for forensic examination, where traces of the explosive pentrite were found in the forward cargo hold. Then pieces of a dark grey Samsonite suitcase covered in a layer of pentrite convinced the investigators that this was the source of the explosion. It had been loaded in Brazzaville. Also found was a tiny fragment of a green-coloured printed circuit board which, as in the case of Pan Am Flight 103, turned out to have been from a timing device. This fragment was identified by the FBI's Thomas Thurman as being manufactured by the Taiwanese firm "TY", which had supplied a number of such devices to Libya. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3163621.stm UTA 772: The forgotten flight] ] [ [http://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/2001/03/PEAN/14934 Thomas Thurman - crucial for identifying bomb timers] ]

Trial "in absentia"

The investigators obtained a confession from one of the alleged terrorists, a Congolese opposition figure, who had helped recruit a fellow dissident to smuggle the IED onto the aircraft. [ [http://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/2001/03/PEAN/14934 "Les preuves trafiquées du terrorisme libyen" by Pierre Péan (Le Monde diplomatique)] ] This confession led to charges being brought against six Libyans. French judge Jean-Louis Bruguière identified them, as follows:

* Abdullah Sanussi, the brother-in-law Muammar al-Gaddafi, and deputy head of Libyan intelligence;
* Abdullah Elazragh, Counsellor at the Libyan embassy in Brazzaville;
* Ibrahim Naeli and Arbas Musbah, explosives experts in the Libyan secret service;
* Issa Shibani, the secret agent who purchased the timer that allegedly triggered the IED; and,
* Abdelsalam Hammouda, Sanussi's right-hand man, who was said to have coordinated the attack.

In 1999, the six Libyans were put on trial in the Paris Assise Court for the bombing of UTA Flight 772. Because Gaddafi would not allow their extradition to France, the six were tried "in absentia" and were convicted. However, although in 2003 Libya "accepted responsibility for the actions of its officials", it did not formally admit any responsibility for sabotaging either Pan Am Flight 103 or UTA Flight 772. [ [http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2003/sc7868.doc.htm Libya "accepted responsibility for the actions of its officials"] ]

The motive usually attributed to Libya for the UTA Flight 772 bombing is that of revenge on the French for supporting Chad against the expansionist projects of Libya toward Chad. Libya was understood to have considered this French support as "neo-colonialist". [ [http://www.photius.com/countries/chad/national_security/chad_national_security_civil_conflict_and_1~11524.html The French military role in Chad] ]

Libyan Compensation

The Paris court awarded the families of the UTA victims sums ranging from €3,000 to €30,000 depending on their relationship to the dead. Not content with this award, the French relatives' group "Les familles du DC-10 d'UTA en colère" signed an agreement on January 9, 2004 with the Gaddafi International Foundation for Charity Associations accepting a compensation payment of $170 million, or $1 million for each of the 170 UTA victims. By May 2007, it was reported that 95% of this compensation money had been distributed. [ [http://perso.orange.fr/dc10-uta/presse/2007/070522afp.htm Over $160 million of Libyan compensation distributed] ] However, the families of the seven American victims refused to accept their $1 million awards and are pursuing the Libyan government through a federal court in Washington. On September 19, 2006, the court was asked to rule that the Libyan government and six of its agents were guilty of the September 19, 1989 destruction of UTA Flight 772. Damages of more than $2 billion were claimed for the loss of life and the destruction of the DC-10 jet. [ [http://www.crowell.com/content/Expertise/VictimsofTerrorism/UTAFlight772/UTAFlight772.htm Compensation claim by American relatives] ]

In April 2007, D.C. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy found Libya directly responsible for the bombing and presided over a three day bench trial from August 13 to August 15, 2007. On January 15, 2008 Judge Kennedy issued an order awarding $6 billion in damages to the families and owners of the airliner. [cite news
title = U.S. court orders Libya to pay $6 billion for bombing
url = http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSN1657189520080116
work =
publisher = Reuters
date = 2007-01-16
accessdate = 2007-01-18
archiveurl =
archivedate =
] [ [http://www.crowell.com/PDF/UTA-Flight-772/UTA_Memorandum-of-Law_Judge-Kennedy.pdf Memorandum, "Robert Pugh, et al. v. Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya", Civ. Action No. 02-2026-HHK (D.D.C. Jan. 15, 2007)] ] [" [http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/5465602.html U.S. judge orders Libya to pay billions to plane victims] ," "Houston Chronicle", January 17, 2008] Libya has appealed this decision.

Popular references

* The song Le grand frère by French artist Adb al-Malik is about one of the victims of UTA Flight 772Fact|date=January 2008
* In his book "", Rush drummer Neil Peart noted that he and two of his riding companions had flown on this particular flight months earlier after their bicycle journey through Cameroon and is forever haunted by the crash.


ee also

* List of accidents and incidents on commercial airliners
* Pan Am Flight 73
* Air India Flight 182
* Pan Am Flight 103
* Pierre Péan

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