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Severe punishments urged for air threats

By Zhao Lei | China Daily | Updated: 2013-05-22 02:52

Ministry of Public Security reacts after series of hoaxes disrupt flights

People who make fake threats to airlines could face criminal charges instead of only being detained for a few days, the Ministry of Public Security said on Tuesday.

The notice came after a rash of threats disrupted flights and airport operations over the past week.

Suspects have been apprehended in two recent cases of multiple fake bomb threats targeting civilian flights, and public security departments should "use legal weapons and handle such offenses in a heavier and faster way", the ministry said.

Offenders should be treated as criminal offenders, rather than be punished by administrative detention according to social security regulations, it said.

Between 5:22 pm and 5:25 pm on Friday, police in Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Guangzhou received phone calls claiming bombs had been placed on airplanes bound for Shanghai. Police detained a 43-year-old man named Ji in Yancheng on Saturday and said he has confessed to making the fake bomb threats.

Bomb threats were also made against three Chinese airlines on May 15, affecting five flights to Shenzhen, Guangdong province. The next day, police apprehended a male suspect in Dongguan, Guangdong.

Zhang Qihuai, a Beijing lawyer specializing in civil aviation laws, said punishments for making false threats to aircraft are not usually severe enough to deter offenders.

Under China's Criminal Law and Civil Aviation Law, the penalty for intentionally disrupting flight operations by fabricating threats ranges from detention to a jail term of less than five years, and more than five years in cases were the threats have had severe consequences.

The toughest sentence handed in previous cases was four years' imprisonment and a fine of less than 2,000 yuan ($326), Zhang said.

"The offense costs the perpertrator little, and mild punishments inflict minor losses on them," he said.

"In my opinion, people who threaten airlines and airports should be prohibited from flying," said Jin Ru, a white-collar worker in Beijing who said she often travels by air.

"Such behavior greatly affects other people's lives and their work, and causes panic and chaos, so it must be handled with an iron fist."


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