Bali’s Chief of Police Inspector General Albertus Julius Benny Mokalu has told the press in Bali that no hijacking occurred on board an inbound Virgin Australia flight from Brisbane on Friday, April 25, 2014.
“There was no hijacking of the airplane,” said General Mokalu. He went on to explain that the incident that brought military and police rushing to a remote parking area of the airport where the Virgin aircraft was parked after landing in Bali, was caused when a 28-year-old Australian Matt Christopher Lockley became aggressive and tried to forced his way into the cockpit of the plane.
Confirming there was a disturbance on the aircraft, it was determined by airline and security elements after landing that no hijacking had occurred.
According to Bali’s top policeman, a man, acting strangely and presumed to be drunk, had tried to gain entry to the cockpit. The pilot, fearing that a hijacking was underway, sent a coded signal to Air Traffic Control that a hijack was underway.
Upon landing the aircraft was surrounded by elite troops who, upon entering the aircraft, took Lockley into custody for interrogation by Air Force and Police officials.
Separately, the 137 passengers and 7 crew on board the Boeing 737-800 were sequestered to obtain eyewitness reports of the incident in the air and to confirm that Lockley was traveling alone.
Virgin Airlines officials were quick to publicly declare that a "hijacking" had not occurred, classifying the incident as a “flight emergency” resulting from the disorderly passengers banging on the cockpit door when the plan was one hour out from landing in Bali.
Heri Sudjatmiko, the Airport Manager for Virgin Australia in Denpasar, told Metro TV: "There was a drunk passenger, intoxicated and aggressively behaved. He was trying to enter the cockpit, banging the door, but he did not enter the cockpit."
Crewmembers on the flight subdued the man by handcuffing him before the plane landed in Bali.
Meanwhile, police authorities have initially encountered difficulties interviewing the agitated Australian who flight attendants described as looking “paranoid” while on the plane. Blood samples have also been taken to determine what role, if any, drugs or alcohol had in the incident.
During the course of the flight emergency the airport was closed to incoming our outbound flights for several hours, causing a number of flights to be deferred.
Depending on the results of police investigation, the young Australian could potentially be charged with simple disorderly behavior on an airplane punishable by up to one year in prison. If, however, authorities consider his behavior endangered the safety of the flight or that the man is guilty of committing violence during the flight, he could serve between 5 and 15 years in prison.
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