Swiss Tourist Detained by Thai Authorities over Bomb Threat
BANGKOK – The Royal Thai Police officers at Suvarnabhumi airport are interrogating Swiss tourist Reto Steinacher after removing him from a Bangkok Airways flight to Koh Samui following a bomb threat.
Pol Col. Kittipob Chumpunuch, the superintendent of the Suvarnabhumi airport police station, told the Bangkok Post that police sought permission from the Samut Prakan court to detain Mr.Reto Steinacher after the Swiss national was arrested on Friday.
The request is routine under Thai law as police can keep a suspect for only 24 hours and need court approval to extend detention for another 12 days.
Pol Col Kittipob said the detention was necessary as investigators were gathering more evidence to take the case to court.
The 36-year-old tourist was arrested on Friday following an incident on-board Bangkok Airways flight PG145 from Suvarnabhumi airport to Koh Samui.
Pilots aborted the take-off and returned the Airbus A319 aircraft with 100 passengers and seven crew members to an isolated parking area for safety.
An earlier report in the Bangkok Post said the Swiss passenger had been involved in a quarrel with another passenger.
But Pol Lt Col Charasluck La-inchuea, who received the complaint from a Bangkok Airways pilot, said on Friday night that Mr Steinacher, who was travelling alone on the flight, suddenly shouted that there was a bomb on the plane and four American passengers sitting nearby promptly alerted a crew member.
All of the passengers were transferred by the carrier to another flight after the incident.
The passenger denied charges of violating the Aviation Act during interrogation on Friday.
Meanwhile, a Bangkok-Moscow flight of Aeroflot failed to take off from Suvarnabhumi airport on Saturday morning after its captain alerted authorities of a possible threat.
Suspicions arose after a Turkish passenger uttered threatening words, authorities said on Saturday.
Authorities were investigating the actions of a man and two women, declining to give specifics of the threat on Saturday afternoon.
Chula Sukmanop, director-general of the Airport Department, said ground control staff were informed of the incident, which prompted the pilot to halt the plane on the taxiway at 10.15am.
The pilot then brought the Boeing 777-300 back to an isolated parking spot 25 minutes later. All 322 passengers and 15 cabin crew later disembarked.
Airports of Thailand president Nitinai Sirismatthakarn said the captain had asked for a recheck of all passengers and their belongings on the flight. The passengers were taken by bus to Gate B9 to wait for checks to be completed.
Suvarnabhumi airport director Sirote Duangrat confirmed at 3pm that no suspicious objects had been found on the passengers or in their baggage.
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