ESCAPE PLAN: Patricia Martell

Patricia's early release after faking pregnancy

MANCUNIAN Patricia Martell had been married just six weeks when she was caught up in the hijacking.

She had left her Leeds-born husband Howard in Israel and was returning to Manchester to her father who was seriously ill following her mother's sudden death just days earlier. Mrs Pearl Hyman had died aged 59 following a routine operation.

Mrs Martell feigned illness, telling the hijackers in Benghazi that she was pregnant (she was not).

"They let me go,'' she recalled, "because it was the beginning of the hijacking and they were very uptight and very nervous, and the woman hijacker realised that if I miscarried there would be a hell of a mess. It wasn't worth their while. I wasn't that important."

She went on: "I worked that out and it went for me. It was purely a ruse. I decided what I was going to say and do and I got away with it. I had to get off that plane and that's all there was to it. I wasn't scared. I knew I'd get away with it and I did.''

Mrs Martell, still living in Israel, who had never enjoyed flying before the hijack, said that she never thought about the incident when she flew today. She was more concerned about crashing.

"After the hijack I thought nothing worse could possibly happen to me, because if you crash you crash, but this was a living nightmare for so long and I keep thinking nothing worse could happen, but I'm still scared.''

She does admit that sometimes she thinks about the fact that what she did was "pretty stupid'. It could have gone very wrong, but it didn't and it paid off.'' Mrs Martell, now a mother of three with one grandchild, insisted that she never relived the nightmare.

Ironically, she had twice nursed Idi Amin between 1970-72 in Israel's Tel Hashomer Hospital. Amin trained with the Israeli airforce and throughout his life, even after he had turned against Israel, proudly sported the wings of an Israeli paratrooper on his uniform.

Recalled Mrs Martell: "He never took those stupid wings off his pyjamas. That showed the man was unstable.''

Mrs Martell had been delegated to look after the sick Amin because she was the only nurse who spoke English.

Had she not used the pregnancy ruse she might have encountered the former Ugandan dictator at Entebbe.

She said: "I would probably go up to him and say, 'Remember me?'

"Can you imagine, he would probably have just stuck a sword through me''.

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