Kenya: Ethiopian in KQ Bomb Scare Sentenced to Four Months Prison Term

A Kenya Airways plane at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (file photo).
28 August 2019

A man who was arrested in April for raising a false bomb alarm in a Johannesburg-bound Kenya Airways (KQ) plane has been sentenced to four months in prison.

Chifraye Bekele's, an Ethiopian, was Wednesday sentenced to four months in prison or a Sh100,000 fine for causing the commotion that led to a temporary shutdown of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

Magistrate Christine Njagi found him guilty of "imperilling the safety of aircraft and persons on board."

According to the judgement, Mr Bekele asked a flight attendant as she was closing an overhead locker: "Why are you scared? You think it's a bomb?

The passenger mentioned the word 'bomb' just before the plane took off, causing a scare that led to the grounding of the aircraft that was scheduled to depart JKIA at 1pm, but later flew at 7:30pm. Kenya Civil Aviation Authority director-general Gilbert Kibe told the Business Daily after the April incident that a commotion begun after an argument ensued between a flight attendant and the passenger.

"This is an act of unlawful interference. The police are set to press criminal charges against him," said Mr Kibe then. In court, testifying via a translator, Mr Bekele said he did not make the joke as he only spoke Amharic and not English.

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