LONDON – A 37-year old man who made a fake bomb threat on a Singapore Airlines flight has been denied bail by a Singapore court on the basis that he is deemed a danger to the public.
Singapore Airlines Flight SQ33
The incident took place on September 28, 2022 on board Singapore Airlines flight SQ33 – an Airbus A350 aircraft – which was operating from San Francisco to Singapore Changi Airport. After more than 12 hours in the air, the police were alerted by the crew that there might be a bomb on board the plane.
The man, 37-year old La Andy Hien Duc, was subsequently charged for allegedly grabbing another passenger’s luggage from the cabin’s overhead compartment and making a bomb threat by shouting on board that there was a bomb on the plane. He has also been charged with assaulting a cabin crew member who tried to restrain him.
Fighter aircraft from the Singapore Air Force followed the Airbus into Changi Airport following the advice of a bomb threat, as a precaution.
Andy Duc was taken to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) for psychiatric observations. In her written submissions, Deputy Public Prosecutor Lim Ying Min objected to releasing Andy Duc on bail. She said that the IMH psychiatrist had assessed that the accused poses a danger to the public.
She added: “The stressors of being in a foreign country, including the fact that he has no fixed place to stay and no one to monitor his compliance with his medications, are risk factors for relapse.”
The Straits Times has been informed that Andy Duc has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. DPP Lim said: “The accused has a history of consuming cannabis as well. Should he gain access to drugs, it will only exacerbate his risk for relapse. If anything, having the accused remanded is also in the interest of his own safety.”
DPP Lim also said that Andy Duc was a flight risk.
The fact that Andy Duc is an American citizen with no permanent residence, and that he has no roots in Singapore (does not own any residential property nor is employed abroad in Singapore), makes him a bigger risk.
She said: “There is therefore a real risk that the accused will abscond should he be released on bail. If this (happens), it will erode public confidence in the criminal justice system.”
District Judge Terence Tay has expressed his approval of DPP Lim’s reasonings, ruling that no bail will be offered to Andy Duc.
This matter has been handled under the Tokyo Convention of 1963. The Tokyo Convention states that:
“The criminal jurisdiction of a State in whose airspace the offence was committed, if such State is not the State of registration of the aircraft or the State where the aircraft lands, shall not be exercised in connection with any offence committed on an aircraft in flight, except in the following cases:
(a) if the offence has effect on the territory of such State;
(b) if the offence has been committed by or against a national of such State;
(c) if the offence is against the national security of such State;
(d) if the offence consists of a breach of any rules and regulations relating to the flight and maneuver of aircraft in force in such State;
(e) if the exercise of jurisdiction is necessary to ensure the observance of any obligation of such State under an international agreement.”
Since in this case, the offense is applicable on all but point (e), Andy Duc has been put on trial based on Singaporean law.