Multiple Unruly Passengers and Drone Pilots Convicted

The prosecutor demanded punishments on Wednesday, 27 March, during an aviation theme-based trial against different suspects, who had misbehaved on board of an airplane or flew a drone to places where was not allowed. All the suspects had to appear before the court of Haarlem.  

At 13:30 the case of the first suspect was dealt with. It concerned a man of 37 with an address in Spain. He did not appear himself. The man was on board of an aircraft from Buenos Aires to Amsterdam in the beginning of November 2023 and used violence against three passengers.

He got angry when the seat of the passenger in front of him moved back. He began to call names and to hit.

A man who grabbed him from behind in order to stop him, was strongly bitten on his arm, whereby he got wounded.

He disregarded the crew who summoned him to stop and to sit down. He continued to call names and threaten his victims. At one moment, a Chilian army officer proposed to go and sit next to the suspect. He calmed down a bit. But after a quarter he said he had to go to the toilet. Then, he looked for one of the victims and again began to call names. The outcries of the man caused fear among other passengers.

The crew had its hands full for an hour and a half on the situation and it was weighed making a stopover.

With his behaviour, the man caused a dangerous situation in the aircraft, which the prosecutor charges him with severely. The crew was not in a state for a long time to guarantee the safety in the air. ‘In the street it is scary enough if such a thing happens, let alone in an aircraft where you can escape nowhere’, according to the prosecutor. He demanded imprisonment for three months unconditional. The magistrate of the court convicted hem him as required.

Drone above Prison Heerhugowaard

Afterwards, a man of 21 from Alkmaar had to appear before the judge. He was not present at the trial, but his attorney was.

The man had flown a drone without a licence on 6 March to where it was not allowed (above a prison in Heerhugowaard) and besides, he had flown when it was dark outside, which is also not allowed. That night, at about 01:00,  a report came to the police that a drone flew over the prison in Heerhugowaard.

The police went to the place and saw a man standing next to a car. Behind him, they saw a drone that was descending. Police began to talk to the man and a bit later came another man to them, the 21 years old suspect. The police asked if they knew anything about a drone, which both denied. After a search, police found a remote-controlled drone in the bushes, where the Alkmaar man had come from earlier.

Later, it was found that a mobile telephone was attached to the drone, which was intended for a prisoner.

The prosecutor demanded 80 hours of community service (60 hours community service for flying a drone where it is not allowed and 20 hours service for flying out of daylight time). The judge convicted him accordingly.

On Board without Medication

A 29-year-old man from the United Kingdom attended the trial with an interpreter. The judge expressed appreciation for his presence.  The man earlier on a plane did not follow the captain's instructions. He did not fasten his security belt, did not remain seated during landing and had hit a purser. The captain found it necessary to bring the aircraft to a standstill on the taxiway and another aircraft had to turn away for this. The Royal Military Police, which later arrived at the scene, determined that the man smelled alcohol. The man stated himself that he had not taken his medication already for two weeks due to shortage in England. He decided to fly notwithstanding, a choice that he now regrets.

The prosecutor demanded a fine of € 750,- an a conditional imprisonment of two years against him. The judge also took into account that the man made the effort to come to the hearing. But at the time, he had made his own choice to travel without his medication.

The judge decided to lay down an imprisonment for two weeks with a probation of two years. The suspect as well as the prosecutor abstained the right to go to appeal. By that, the verdict became irrevocable. 

The Hatch

The next suspect was a man of 64 from Doorn. He allegedly did not listen to an instruction from a crew member. She asked him to raise the hatch near him. He was calling names and shouting on board so hard that the captain could hear him. For this, he got a fine of € 200,- from the prosecutor. He did not agree with this and opposed the fine.

The man himself stated at the hearing that he did open the hatch, even though it was not his hatch but that of someone in the row in front of him, who was no longer sitting there.

The prosecutor relies on the file in which several witnesses stated that the man did not want to open the hatch. This while he should have followed the crew's instruction in the context of safety.

The prosecutor demanded that the man pay a fine of €200. The judge decided otherwise, also taking into account the man's personal circumstances. He imposed a fine of €200, of which €100 was suspended with a probationary period of one year.

With Drone above Corona Demonstration

A 55-year-old man from Steenwijk flew a drone during a corona demonstration over the Westerpark in Amsterdam. It is forbidden to fly above a group of people with a drone. The prosecutor emphasized that it is really dangerous to fly a drone above a group of people. The prosecutor demanded the court to impose a fine of € 300,- euro to the man. The Judge convicted him to a fine of € 200,- euro, of which € 100,- conditional.       

Smoking on Board

A man of 40 from Dublin had lighted a cigarette in an airplane. As for the prosecutor, a fine of €200 could be imposed. The judge convicted the suspect as required in absentia.

A 39-year-old man from Renkum smoked on board and a fine of € 200,- was proposed to him by the PPS. He did not pay this and had to appear before the judge. The prosecutor demanded that the man pay a higher fine of € 240,-, because the man had not paid and had not come to the court without any notice. The judge convicted hem to a fine of € 200,- euro in absentia.

The afternoon concluded with the case of a 55-year-old man with no fixed abode. He allegedly smoked on board on two occasions, despite being previously summoned to stop. The prosecutor demanded a fine of € 750,- euro, of which € 250,- euro conditional and a probation period of two years. The judge convicted him in absentee to a fine of € 350,- euro.

In total thus, there were six suspects who misbehaved in the airplane and had to appear before the judge. The PPS finds it important to act strongly together with chain partners in this type of cases and deal with these suspects. They cause dangerous situations in the aircraft. The cabin crew cannot do their work properly anymore and the passengers can be in unsafe situation when another passenger for instance behaves aggressively. Also, an airplane can be forced to land somewhere else and a substantial delay can be created by that.