Emirates Airline passenger averts long jail term

A drunken passenger convicted of assault and endangering an aircraft is sentenced to three months in prison.

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DUBAI // An Emirates Airline passenger who was found guilty of assault and endangering an aircraft was sentenced yesterday by the Dubai Criminal Courts to only three months in prison even though similar cases have carried penalties of 10 years and deportation. FY, aged 52, was sentenced for his behaviour aboard Emirates flight EK 749 from Tunis to Dubai last April.

The court heard that after drinking large amounts of alcohol the man falsely claimed to be wearing an explosive belt. He was also accused of slapping a passenger and fighting the cabin crew, who tried to restrain him during the flight, and of endangering the passengers and plane. FY had pleaded not guilty. His blood alcohol concentration, according to the forensic report, proved he was intoxicated.

Five flight attendants testified that FY was drunk and abusive, but his lawyer argued they gave differing versions of events. The flight attendants said FY started screaming and slapped another passenger. "He said that the plane was under his control and that he had an explosive belt," said Alaa Abdel Majid, a 40-year-old Egyptian flight supervisor on board. The attendants said the passengers then started to panic and fear for their lives. They testified that the cabin crew intervened and attempted to subdue the defendant.

"We had him under control and the pilots then informed the tower in Dubai," the supervisor said. FY was arrested by the airport police upon landing. amustafa@thenational.ae