Thursday, September 11, 2008

Briton Pleads Not Guilty After Drunken Bomb Threat

DUBAI (AFP) — A Briton who sparked a bomb alert on an Emirates flight from Manchester to Dubai in July while he was drunk told a court in the Gulf emirate that he was joking, newspapers reported on Thursday.

"It was a joke," Mark Winter, 37, told the court on Wednesday, as he pleaded not guilty to attacking a civilian airliner, the papers said.

Winter, who triggered panic by claiming he had a bomb that would explode in seven minutes, admitted he had been drinking, the papers said.

Emirates airline said on July 9 that a drunken Briton sparked the bomb alert as its flight from England landed in Dubai.

An official for the Dubai carrier said the passenger had an argument with one of the crew and then claimed a bomb was on the aircraft, which was later searched and no explosives found.

A prosecution spokesman said last month that Winter would be tried on charges of assaulting the aircraft and passengers as well as drunkenness.

"I was drunk. I was unaware of what I was doing ... I did not assault the flight attendant. I did not assault the passengers but I was trying to defend myself," the English-language daily Khaleej Times quoted Winter as telling the court.

The court will issue its verdict on September 17, the newspaper added.