Iraqi Airways boss ordered to stay in London in Kuwait row

Iraqi Airways boss ordered to stay in London in Kuwait row
# 01 May 2010 04:44 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. A judge ordered the chief executive of Iraqi Airways to remain in Britain until at least Wednesday after the first commercial flight from Baghdad to London ended in a legal nightmare, APA reports quoting AFP.
Kifah Hassan Jabbar appeared at London’s High Court on Friday after he had his passport seized and the plane he arrived on was impounded at Gatwick Airport on Sunday in a two-decade-long legal dispute with Kuwait Airways.
The Kuwaiti airline claimed in court that Iraqi Airways owes it 1.2 billion dollars and pressed Jabbar to produce a statement under oath of his airline’s worldwide assets.
The dispute dates back to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, when, according to the oil-rich emirate, 10 of its planes and aircraft parts were plundered after its airport was seized.
Lawyer David Scorey, for Kuwait Airways, told the court Iraqi Airways had consistently refused to meet its legal obligations and was guilty of "perjury, fraud and perversion of justice on a grandiose scale".
He said extensive legal proceedings against Iraqi Airways were also under way in Canada.
But Stephen Nathan, a lawyer for the Iraqi airline, questioned why the Kuwaiti airline had taken no action over the past five years and suggested it had acted on Sunday to ensure maximum publicity to coincide with the inaugural flight.
He also complained that a policeman had come to Jabbar’s London hotel in the early hours of the morning to seize his passport after he had refused to hand it over at the airport.
"That is not the way in which we operate in this country, that is the way in which tinpot dictatorships work," Nathan said.
He asked the court for the airline, which he described as "a large state entity", to be given six weeks to prepare an affidavit of its worldwide assets.
But the judge said that because Iraqi Airways was a "substantial judgement debtor" he would only grant it three weeks to make a sworn statement of its assets.
The judge said Jabbar must return to the High Court on Wednesday to make his case for the return of his passport.
He warned that even if the documents were returned, Jabbar risked being ordered to return to Britain to be cross-examined on the state of the airline’s assets.
Outside court, Jabbar -- who was trained as a pilot in Britain in the 1970s -- said he was confident that justice would be done.
"I believe this is the country of implementing law and justice so I have no worries.
"It is up to the court but we at Iraqi Airways believe we are not at fault."
He added: "Kuwait Airways and Iraqi Airways are victims. In fact both countries are victims, victims of Saddam’s regime.
"We should start a new age between the two countries."
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