x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Passenger who made Emirates hijack threat 'is a repeat offender'

Officials say an Iranian man has a history of behaving badly on airplanes.

DUBAI // An Iranian passenger who threatened to hijack an Emirates airlines aircraft en route to Manila, had committed a similar act before, according to court papers.

AJ, 38, denied charges of threatening, assaulting and insulting public employees on Flight 334 in March when he appeared before the Dubai Court of Misdemeanours recently.

He also allegedly told crew members to kiss his behind, records stated.

He will appear before the Criminal Court of First Instance on June 7 on charges of threatening to hijack an aircraft and claiming to possess a weapon, records said.

When the airline reported the incident, police investigations showed AJ had committed a similar act on another Emirates flight departing from Tehran in 2009, but the airline did not press charges. In that incident, AJ allegedly insulted MA, a male flight attendant, assaulted him and claimed to have a bazooka onboard.

Prosecutors said that on the morning of March 1, 2011, FW, a female flight attendant was greeting passengers and offering her assistance.

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

She said another man with AJ said nothing during the short conversation but heard what AJ said.

FW informed the captain, who called airport police, and officers arrested AJ immediately, 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.

AJ said he suffered from an unnamed condition in his nervous system and takes medication that affects his attitude and behaviour.

When investigators asked him about the 2009 incident, he said that he had asked a female flight attendant to help him enter the flight deck, and when she refused, AJ insulted her.

A male flight attendant, MA, 38, Yemeni, testified that 30 minutes before landing in Dubai, his colleague complained about AJ and said he was carrying a weapon. MA's supervisor went to speak to AJ, and at that point the passenger claimed to have a bazooka.

The verdict in the Court of Misdemeanours will be issued on June 9.

salamir@thenational.ae