Sunday, May 12, 2013

■■SÃO TOMÉ & PRÍNCIPE: Wise guy who made joke about bomb on an STP Airways flight to Lisbon to appear in court.

STP Airways logo[UPDATE 12 MAY] A Portuguese national who made a wise-crack about having a bomb in his luggage that was ready to explode is due to appear in court in São Tomé today. The man, Manuel Ferreira, was travelling with his wife on STP Airways (8F) flight 8F508 from São Tomé International Airport to Lisbon earlier this week when he made the remarks.

STP Airways offices

According to Lusophone newswire, PNN, Mr Ferreira had boarded the aircraft when he was heard saying "he had a bomb in his luggage, ready to explode". Following that, he was offloaded into the hands of the São Toméan police who then brought him before a local prosecutor. The prosecutor then referred the case to the local court, whose hearing is set for this morning (Thursday May 9).
"The passenger said he had a bomb on the device (plane) and we had to act accordingly," the manager responsible for airport security at Sao Tome, Fernando Pereira, told Lusa.
Source [PNN]

Thereafter, the aircraft, a 737-800 leased from TACV Cabo Verde Airlines (VR), was deplaned after which it was thoroughly inspected for explosives. None were found.

Mr Ferreira, who had been on the island for an East Atlantic Biosphere Reserve Network (REDBIOS) meeting,  claimed he had meant the remarks as a "joke" with his lawyer stating that the incident was nothing more than "a misunderstanding, which was taken to extreme exponential proportions without any need."

Onboard the flight were also the São Toméan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Natalia Umbelina, and Portuguese Minister of Solidarity and Social Security, Pedro Mota Soares.

[UPDATE 12 MAY] PNN once more reports that Mr Ferreira was acquitted on charges of "intent to commit a felony" by the court in São Tomé. The presiding judge threw out the case owing to a lack of evidence in the form of witnesses or "experts", adding that São Toméan authorities have to be more "pragmatic" in their application of the law.