Man sent to prison for bomb hoax on Malaysia Air­lines flight

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Asean Focus -

AN Aus­tralian judge sen­tenced a man to 12 years in prison Thurs­day for threat­en­ing to det­o­nate a fake bomb on a Malaysia Air­lines flight, ter­ri­fy­ing more than 200 pas­sen­gers and crew.

Man­odh Marks, 26, forced the plane to turn back soon af­ter take­off when he screamed that he had a bomb and ran down the aisle car­ry­ing flash­ing elec­tronic de­vices. A Sri Lankan study­ing hos­pi­tal­ity in Aus­tralia, he pleaded guilty in a Melbourne court to at­tempt­ing to take con­trol of an air­craft, a fed­eral of­fense that car­ries a po­ten­tial max­i­mum penalty of 20 years in prison.

The drama came af­ter Malaysia Air­lines lost two planes in 2014. Flight 370, car­ry­ing 239 peo­ple, is thought to have crashed in the south­ern In­dian Ocean af­ter fly­ing far off course for rea­sons still not ex­plained. Flight 17 was shot down over east­ern Ukraine, killing all 298 aboard, and in­ves­ti­ga­tors last month said the mis­sile be­longed to a Rus­sia-based military unit.

In May last year, an agitated and drug-af­fected Marks ran down the aisle of the plane hold­ing a por­ta­ble speaker and a power bank with flash­ing blue lights.

Judge Michael Mcin­er­ney said Marks reached the gal­ley out­side the cock­pit door where he an­nounced he in­tended to de­stroy the plane.

“The pas­sen­gers and crew were not only con­cerned but con­vinced that you were in­deed in pos­ses­sion of a bomb,” Mcin­er­ney said. “One can imag­ine the fear and dis­tress of ev­ery­one on board.”

Mcin­er­ney said the bomb threat came dur­ing the vul­ner­a­ble take­off pe­riod, dis­tract­ing the pilot and putting those on board at in­creased risk.

The pilot made a mayday call to Melbourne air traf­fic con­trol and turned the plane around. Marks was even­tu­ally over­pow­ered by pas­sen­gers and res­trained with ca­ble ties as the flight, bound for Kuala Lumpur, re­turned to Melbourne Air­port.

Po­lice fear­ing a real bomb made pas­sen­gers stay on the plane for al­most 90 min­utes be­fore storm­ing the air­craft and ar­rest­ing Marks.

His lawyers said Marks had be­come a reg­u­lar metham­phetamine user and on the night of the flight was suffering a drug­in­duced psy­chosis with delu­sions.

The judge said Marks would be de­ported to Sri Lanka af­ter serv­ing at least nine years of his sen­tence. – AP

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