SINGAPORE: A 37-year-old man who was arrested after allegedly assaulting cabin crew and claiming that he had a bomb on Singapore Airlines flight SQ33 was charged in court on Thursday (Sep 29).
"Preliminary investigations indicate that during the flight, the man had allegedly shouted that there was a bomb on the plane and grabbed another passenger’s luggage from the cabin’s overhead compartment," the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said in a statement.
A member of the cabin crew who tried to intervene and restrain La Andy Hien Duc was allegedly assaulted, said the police.
Checks by the cabin crew did not reveal any suspicious items in the American's luggage, they added.
The police told reporters on Wednesday that it was alerted to an alleged bomb threat on board flight SQ33 from San Francisco to Singapore.
The man was restrained by the crew, and police subsequently arrested him for making false threats of terrorist acts and for suspected consumption of controlled drugs.
The plane landed safely at Changi Airport at about 5.50am, under the escort of Republic of Singapore Air Force F-16C/D fighter jets.
Officers from the Airport Police Division and Special Operations Command’s K-9 Unit, as well as the Singapore Armed Forces’ Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Explosives Defence Group, were mobilised to investigate the threat, which turned out to be false.
As a result of the additional security measures, there was a delay of more than four hours in disembarkation. The 17 crew and 208 passengers disembarked at only around 9.30am, the police said on Thursday.
"Preliminary investigations by the Central Narcotics Bureau revealed that the man’s urine tested positive for controlled drugs," SPF added.
The American was charged with offences read with a section of the Tokyo Convention Act 1971, which allows offenders to be charged under Singapore laws if a crime takes place on a Singapore-controlled aircraft flying outside of the country.
He was also remanded at the Institute of Mental Health for psychiatric observation and will return to court on Oct 13, according to court documents.
If found guilty of using threatening words likely to cause alarm, he could be fined up to S$5,000. The offence of voluntarily causing hurt carries a penalty of up to three years' jail, a fine of up to S$5,000, or both.
The police warned that they will not hesitate to take action against anyone who causes public alarm with false threats.
"Beyond the fear and inconvenience caused to other members of the public, the making of false threats comes at a cost, in the extensive public resources that have to be deployed to deal with the incident," they said.
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