Men accused of endangering PIA plane in UK deny charge

Two British Pakistani men, who appeared in a British court on Monday to face a charge of endangering a Pakistani passenger plane following an incident at Stansted Airport earlier this year, denied the offence.

Last Updated: Aug 06, 2013, 08:53 AM IST

London: Two British Pakistani men, who appeared in a British court on Monday to face a charge of endangering a Pakistani passenger plane following an incident at Stansted Airport earlier this year, denied the offence.

Tayyab Subhani, 30, and Mohammed Safdar, 41, from Nelson in Lancashire attended a plea and case management hearing at Chelmsford Crown Court in Essex.

The pair were on a Pakistan International Airways (PIA) flight originally bound for Manchester Airport when the alleged incident took place on May 24. The aircraft was forced to land at Stansted Airport, after being escorted by Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon fighter jets.

Subhani, a taxi driver, and Safdar, a restaurant worker, are now expected to face trial in November.

PIA Flight PK709 from Lahore was diverted en route to its scheduled stop in Manchester after the pilot sent a signal to Air Traffic Control.

The two British citizens were travelling back from Pakistan after attending Safdar`s mother`s funeral, Chelmsford Crown Court was told at an earlier hearing.

The Boeing 777 plane, carrying 308 passengers, was shadowed into Stansted Britain’s designated counter-terrorism airport by RAF jets after the pilot reported threats being made.

Magistrate Sarah-Jane Davies had refused an application to grant the men bail.

Endangering an aircraft carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and their case will be dealt under the UK`s Aviation Security Act 1982.

Pakistan Muslim League (N) leader Fakhar Iqbal was reportedly sitting behind the two men on the flight and was on his way back from Pakistan after campaigning for his brother, Tariq Iqbal Chaudhary, who beat Tehmina Daultana in a Multan constituency.

He had told Pakistan`s `The News` newspaper that the two men openly abused other passengers and everyone was scared.

"I have not seen anything like this. I was interviewed by the police for two hours. I was scared at one stage that these two men may blow up the plane as they looked really hostile," he said.

PTI