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UTA Flight 772

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Title: UTA Flight 772  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Foreign relations of Libya under Muammar Gaddafi, Pan Am Flight 103 conspiracy theories, France–Libya relations, Aviation accidents and incidents in 1989, List of accidents and incidents involving airliners by location
Collection: 1989 in Chad, 1989 in France, 1989 in Libya, 1989 in Niger, 1989 in the Republic of the Congo, Accidents and Incidents Involving the McDonnell Douglas Dc-10, Airliner Bombings, Aviation Accidents and Incidents in 1989, Aviation Accidents and Incidents in Niger, Chadian–libyan Conflict, France–libya Relations, History of the United Nations, Mass Murder in 1989, Terrorist Incidents in 1989, Union De Transports Aériens Accidents and Incidents
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

UTA Flight 772

UTA Flight 772
Route taken by UTA Flight 772.
Bombing summary
Date 19 September 1989
Summary Bombing
Site Ténéré, Niger
Passengers 156
Crew 14
Fatalities 170 (all)
Survivors 0
Aircraft type McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30
Operator Union des Transports Aériens (UTA)
Registration N54629
Flight origin Maya-Maya Airport
Brazzaville, People's Republic of the Congo
Last stopover N'Djamena Int'l Airport
N'Djamena, Chad
Destination Charles de Gaulle Airport
Paris, France

UTA Flight 772 of the French airline Union de Transports Aériens was a scheduled international passenger flight operating from Brazzaville in the People's Republic of the Congo, via N'Djamena in Chad, to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.

On Tuesday, 19 September 1989 the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 aircraft took off from N'Djamena International Airport at 13:13. Forty-six minutes later, at its cruising altitude of 10,700 metres (35,100 ft), a bomb explosion caused UTA Flight 772 to break up over the Sahara Desert 450 km east of Agadez in the southern Ténéré of Niger (map location incorrect, coordinates are correct). All 156 passengers and 14 crew members died.[1] It is the deadliest aviation incident to occur in Niger and the fourth-deadliest involving a DC-10, after Air New Zealand Flight 901, American Airlines Flight 191, and Turkish Airlines Flight 981.


  • Aircraft 1
  • Victims 2
  • Investigation 3
  • Trial in absentia 4
    • Alleged motive 4.1
  • Libyan compensation 5
  • Other statements 6
  • Memorial 7
  • Maps 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


The aircraft, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30, registration N54629,[2] serial number 46852, was manufactured in 1973.[3] The 125th DC-10 off of the production line, the airframe had accumulated 60,276 flight hours over 14,777 flight cycles (a flight cycle is equal to a take-off and a landing) at the time of its hull loss.[4]


N54629, the UTA McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 involved in the attack.

On the flight deck were Captain Georges Raveneau, as instructor; First Officer Jean-Pierre Hennequin in training; safety pilot Michel Crézé; and Flight Engineer Alain Bricout. In the cabin were 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.

Among the passengers killed was Bonnie Pugh, wife of the American ambassador to Chad at the time, Robert L. Pugh.[1]

Chadian Planning Minister Mahamat Soumahila was also aboard, bound for the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund in Washington.

The victims came from 18 different countries, the majority being French or Congolese nationals: 54 French, 48 nationals of People's Republic of Congo, 25 Chadians, 9 Italians, 7 Americans, 5 Cameroonians, 4 Britons, 3 nationals of Zaire (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.. Eight of the fatalities were oil workers (from Esso, Parker, Schlumberger) coming back from the completed drilling of the Kome-3 borehole in southern Chad.

After the plane was bombed, Leonardo Leonardi, a spokesperson for the Italian Embassy in Paris, said that the embassy believed that six Italians were on the flight. A spokesperson of the Friars Minor Capuchin religious order said that two members of the order were on board the aircraft.[5]


An investigation commission of the Islamic Jihad, who were quick to claim responsibility for the attack, and the "Secret Chadian Resistance" rebel group, which opposed president Hissen Habré.[4] Five years previously, on 10 March 1984, a bomb 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.[6]

Wreckage of the aircraft was sent to France for forensic examination, where traces of the explosive PETN (Penthrite) were found in the forward cargo hold. Pieces of a dark grey Samsonite suitcase covered in a layer of PETN convinced the investigators that this was the source of the explosion. It had been loaded in Brazzaville.

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 bomb onto the aircraft.[7] This confession led to charges being brought against six Libyans. French judge Jean-Louis Bruguière identified them, as follows:

  • Abdullah Senussi, brother-in-law of Muammar 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 bomb; and,
  • Abdelsalam Hammouda, Senussi's right-hand man, who was said to have coordinated the attack.

In 1999, the six Libyans were put on trial in the Paris Assize 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.

On 5 September 2012, the country of Mauritania extradited Abdullah Senussi to Libyan authorities. Senussi is to be tried in Libya for crimes he allegedly committed during the time he was the close assistant to Gaddafi.[8] Senussi appeared in a Libyan court for a pre-trial hearing on 19 September 2013. On 11 October 2013, the International Criminal Court ruled that he can be tried in Libya and lifted their warrant.[9]

Alleged motive

The motive usually attributed to Libya for the UTA Flight 772 bombing is that of revenge against the French for supporting Chad against the expansionist projects of Libya toward Chad.[10]

The Chadian–Libyan conflict (1978–1987) ended in disaster for Libya following the defeat at the Battle of Maaten al-Sarra in the 1987 Toyota War. Muammar Gaddafi was forced to accede to a ceasefire ending his dreams of African and Arab dominance. Gaddafi blamed the defeat on French and U.S. "aggression against Libya".[11]

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 DC10 d'UTA"[12] signed an agreement on 9 January 2004 with the Gaddafi International Foundation for Charity Associations accepting a compensation payment of US$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.[13] However, the families of the seven American victims refused to accept their US$1 million awards and are pursuing the Libyan government through a federal court in Washington. On 19 September 2006, the court was asked to rule that the Libyan government and six of its agents were guilty of the destruction of UTA Flight 772 on 19 September 1989. Damages of more than US$2 billion were claimed for the loss of life and the destruction of the DC-10 jet.[14]

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 13 August 2007 to 15 August 2007. On 15 January 2008, Judge Kennedy issued an order awarding US$6 billion in damages to the families and owners of the airliner.[1][15][16][17] Libya has appealed this decision.

In October 2008 Libya paid $1.5 billion into a fund which will be used to compensate relatives of the

  1. Lockerbie bombing victims;
  2. American victims of the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing;
  3. American victims of the 1989 UTA Flight 772 bombing; and,
  4. Libyan victims of the 1986 US bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi.

As a result, U.S. executive order restoring the Libyan government's immunity from terror-related lawsuits and dismissing all of the pending compensation cases in the U.S. [18]

Other statements

In Manipulations Africaines (African Manipulations), published in February 2001,

  • Final report (Archive) (French)
  • English translation of final report Prepared by Harro Ranter, Aviation Safety Network (Archive)
    • Appendices (Archive)
  • Les Familles de l'Attentat du DC10 d'UTA (French)
  • Reynolds, Paul. "UTA 772: The forgotten flight." BBC. Tuesday 19 August 2003.
  • Additional photos of memorial and its construction

External links

  1. ^ a b c "Court Awards US Victims More Than $6 Billion for 1989 Libyan Terrorist Bombing of French Airliner That Killed 170 People Over African Desert." PR Newswire. 15 January 2008. Retrieved on 3 June 2009.
  2. ^ "FAA Registry". Federal Aviation Administration. 
  3. ^ UTA N54629 (Airfleets). Retrieved: 20 April 2014.
  4. ^ a b UTA Flight 772: Aviation Safety Network report
  5. ^ "Plane with 171 aboard explodes." New Straits Times. Thursday 21 September 1989. Retrieved from Google News (1 of 24) on 27 April 2011.
  6. ^ UTA DC-8: Aviation Safety Network report
  7. ^ by Pierre Péan (Le Monde diplomatique)Les preuves trafiquées du terrorisme libyen
  8. ^ "'"Mauritania 'extradites Libya ex-spy chief Abdullah al-Senussi. BBC News. Retrieved 5 September 2012. 
  9. ^ "Gaddafi spy chief Abdullah al-Senussi in court". BBC News. Retrieved 4 November 2013. 
  10. ^ The French military role in Chad
  11. ^ Greenwald, John (21 September 1987). "Disputes Raiders of the Armed Toyotas".  
  12. ^ (French) Les Familles du DC10 d'UTA
  13. ^ Over $160 million of Libyan compensation distributed
  14. ^ Compensation claim by American relatives
  15. ^ "U.S. court orders Libya to pay $6 billion for bombing". Reuters. 16 January 2007. Retrieved 18 January 2007. 
  16. ^ , Civ. Action No. 02-2026-HHK (D.D.C. 15 January 2007)Robert Pugh, et al. v. Socialist People's Libyan Arab JamahiriyaMemorandum,
  17. ^ "U.S. judge orders Libya to pay billions to plane victims," Houston Chronicle, 17 January 2008
  18. ^ "Libya compensates terror victims". BBC News. 31 October 2008. Retrieved 1 November 2008. 
  19. ^ (French) Les preuves trafiquées du terrorisme libyen
  20. ^ Pierre Péan (2001). "African Manipulations: Tainted Evidence of Libyan Terrorism". Retrieved 24 January 2009. 
  21. ^ "Ex-foreign minister says Libya behind 1989 airline attack". Al Arabiya. 18 July 2011. 
  22. ^ "The Sahara memorial seen from space". Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  23. ^ "Les Familles de l'Attentat du DC-10 d'UTA". Retrieved 16 June 2009. 
  24. ^ "UTA Flight 772 memorial". Google Sightseeing. Retrieved 16 June 2009. 
  25. ^ "UTA Flight 772 Memorial from Google Earth". DigitalGlobe. Retrieved 17 May 2013. 
  26. ^ "I Noticed This Tiny Thing on Google Maps. When I Zoomed In… Well, Nothing Could Prepare Me". 2 November 2013. 
  27. ^ "UTA Flight 772 Memorial". Snopes. Retrieved 2 January 2014. 


See also

The locations of the accident and the airports
Crash site
Location of the accident and the airports
Crash site is located in Niger
Crash site
Crash site in Niger


In 2007 a memorial was created in the desert by Les Familles de l'Attentat du DC-10 d'UTA, an association of the victims' families. In order to retain the sanctity of the crash site, the memorial is about 10 km away from it.[22] The memorial, at , is constructed of black rock in the shape and dimensions of the DC10 airplane inside a compass, with one of the plane's wings used as a compass point, and over 170 broken mirrors to reflect the victims of the crash.[23][24] The memorial is visible in aerial imagery on Google Maps.[25][26][27]


” [21]

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