An Ethiopian Airlines passenger is under police and security supervision in Tanzania after being charged destruction and disturbance to passengers onboard.
The passenger, known as Ally Thabit Ally, an Oman citizen, had booked a flight on Ethiopian Airlines from Tanzania’s commercial city of Dar es Salaam to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia last week.
Police and security operatives from the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) said the person, a student in Oman, had booked the plane to Addis Ababa and caused destruction to aircraft parts and a flight delay at Tanzania’s airport.
The person, police said, had booked the flight to Addis Ababa then boarded the plane, but locked himself in the aircraft latrine for several minutes, and when the aircraft was taxiing on the runway ready to take off, the cabin crew noted an empty seat with a missing passenger on board.
Police and security operatives further said that the shocked crew alerted the pilot of the missing passenger, a situation which forced the pilot to reverse the aircraft to the parking area where airport security stormed into the plane in an effort to search for the missing passenger.
After counting all passengers onboard, they found an empty seat, then directed their eyes to the aircraft toilet to find it locked.
They knocked on the latrine door with all efforts but with no response for more than ten minutes, then applied force to let the person out with positive response.
Police further said the person was found locked inside the ET aircraft’s latrine and when interrogated, he complained of diarrhoea and a loose stomach which forced him to stay inside the aircraft’s latrine for a long time.
“It took the airport security officials more than 15 minutes knocking on the aircraft latrine door to get the person out, but in vain. As the security personnel were contemplating the next step, the person opened the door and got out,” said the Jnulius Nyerere International Airport official.
“Soon after getting out of the latrine, he told us that he was suffering from diarrhoea and a loose stomach. There was no alternative more than canceling his trip for security reasons, and we later booked him to the airport police station for further interrogation,” added the airport official.
The person is now under police custody waiting court charges, accused of causing destruction to ET’s aircraft latrine door.
Further reports said that the person has been thoroughly interrogated to establish if he was planning to hijack the plane and whether he was an airborne terrorist, but only found him with the aircraft destruction offense.
Tanzanian police said the person will be sent to court soon after assessing the costs incurred from the destruction and the value of the aircraft part he had destroyed before letting him out of Tanzania.
“We are working closely with Ethiopian Airlines to establish the incurred loss and the value of the aircraft part which the person had caused before charging him and letting him to fly out of Tanzania,” a senior police official told eTN.