Qatari govt aims to kill upgraded strip search lawsuit

·2-min read

A third Qatari government body has been hit with claims of assault, battery and false imprisonment in a lawsuit by five Australian women allegedly strip searched at Doha's Hamad Airport.

The women were among hundreds forcibly removed from aircraft at Doha on October 2, 2020 as officials searched for the mother of a newborn baby in a bathroom at the terminal.

Taken out of the plane by armed guards, many say they were forced to have non-consensual gynaecological or intimate physical examinations.

One passenger was forced to undergo a strip search holding her five-month old son, the lawsuit claims. Another, who is elderly and legally blind, was directed out of the aircraft but was not subject to a search.

The women, who cannot be legally named, first sued the government-owned Qatar Civil Aviation Authority and Qatar Airways in the Federal Court.

On Tuesday, they were allowed to also name Qatar Company for Airports Operation and Management (MATAR) in the lawsuit.

According to court documents seen by AAP, MATAR is a corporate subsidiary of Qatar Airways and has been contracted out by the QCAA to manage the Doha airport.

The nurse and armed personnel who conducted the strip searches were employees of MATAR, the lawsuit claims.

Qatar Airways is now seeking to either completely toss the allegations against it in a summary dismissal application or have the court delete certain paragraphs from the pleadings.

In a brief case management hearing on Tuesday, Justice John Halley vacated a June 14 hearing for this dismissal bid to give MATAR time to consider whether it also wanted to file a similar application.

Representing the five women, barrister Dr Christopher Ward SC said he was concerned about having to face separate attacks on the lawsuit when they could be heard together.

"We can't meet a series of rolling stones," he told the court.

Qatar Airways' barrister David Sulan SC agreed to postpone the hearing.

In the lawsuit, Qatar Airways, QCAA and MATAR also face allegations of negligence and breach of its duty of care to passengers for what allegedly occurred to those forced off the plane.

The women are seeking damages, plus exemplary damages from the three Qatari entities.

The case will next come before the Federal Court on June 9.