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Harsher punishments for bomb hoaxes

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-05-28 21:51

BEIJING - The Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) on Tuesday published "guiding" cases for prosecutors' reference when handling bomb hoaxes targeting civilian and other types of flights.

In a Tuesday statement, an SPP official vowed stiffer penalties for those involved in fabricating and spreading terrorist threats.

"There is an increasing number of cases of fabricated and intentionally circulated false terrorist information in recent years," said the unnamed official.

False terrorist information targeting civilian airlines is especially frequent, severely disrupting civil flight order and threatening the safety and property of air passengers, the official said.

On May 15, five flights bound for Shenzhen and operated by China Eastern Airlines, Juneyao Airlines and Shenzhen Airlines were targeted by bomb threats.

On May 17, all flights at the Jiangbei International Airport in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality were disrupted for over one hour following a bomb threat.

The threats, which affected 16 civilian flights and created long delays on these two days, came in the form of anonymous phone calls placed to airports and airline offices. Some of the suspects were arrested, according to the police.

According to China's criminal law and civil aviation law, those who intentionally disrupt flight operations by fabricating threats may receive punishments ranging from detention to a jail term of up to five years, or more than five years for those whose actions have severe consequences.

The Ministry of Public Security issued a notice to police on May 21, asking them to treat similar cases as criminal cases in the future, as criminal cases bear greater punishment.

Tuesday's statement by the SPP stressed harsher penalties if the false threats were aimed at swindling money.

The SPP cited Yuan Caiyan from central China's Hubei Province, who fabricated bomb threats in January 2005 by calling shopping malls in several cities such as Shanghai and Shenzhen and threatening to detonate a bomb if they did not send him money.

Yuan's acts caused the shopping malls to evacuate the premises and suspend business, which caused serious economic losses and should be deemed as "severe consequences," the statement said. He was sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment.

The SPP also gave the example of Li Zeqiang, who claimed to intend to bomb Beijing Capital International Airport in a phone message in August 2010 and sent it to scores of random cell phone numbers, which seriously disrupted the order of the airport. Li was sentenced to one year in prison.

Meanwhile, the SPP cited Wei Xuechen to show the sentence of a suspect who created panic and seriously disrupted social order. Wei, a tourist guide in the northeast city of Dalian, called the local airport in June 2010 to claim that there were two terrorists on board a certain flight after he boasted that he could delay the flight.

The airport immediately initiated the emergency response, evacuated passengers from the flight and thoroughly examined the plane. The flight was delayed for half an hour. Wei was finally sentenced to 18 months of imprisonment for his act.

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