x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Emirates bazooka threat passenger sentenced to six months

Man is convicted of implying he planned to hijack an Emirates flight.

DUBAI // A passenger who threatened to hijack one Emirates airlines flight and claimed to have a bazooka on another was sentenced to six months in prison this morning.

AJ, 38, from Iran, was convicted in the Criminal Court of First Instance of telling a flight attendant he was going to hijack a flight to Manila in March and saying he had a weapon on a flight from Tehran in 2009. He had denied both charges.

The Dubai Court of Misdemeanours this month had found him guilty of issuing threats to an employee, assaulting public employees and insulting them. He was sentenced to three months for those charges, which stemmed from the 2009 flight, and will be deported after serving his time.

On March 1, aboard Emirates Flight 334 to Manila, AJ told FW, a female flight attendant was greeting passengers and offering her assistance.

When she asked AJ whether he needed any help, he replied: "Since I will hijack the airplane, no need for your help."

FW informed the captain, who called airport police, and officers arrested AJ immediately after landing, records show.

"According to procedures, if we hear alarming words like bomb or hijack, we report it right away," she said in records.

During investigations, AJ denied doing anything wrong. He testified that he actually said something like, since it was not like taking a plane, he didn't need her help.

"It's a very stupid answer, I know," he told investigators.

In the 2009 incident, AJ insulted MA, a flight attendant and assaulted him after claiming to have a bazooka onboard.

MA, 38, Yemeni, testified that 30 minutes before landing in Dubai, a colleague complained about AJ. MA's supervisor went to speak AJ, who then said he had a rocket launcher and dared them to do anything about it.

AJ said he suffered from a nervous condition and took medication for it that affected his attitude and behavior.

salamir@thenational.ae