Afghan Parliament Members Accused of Forcing Plane To Divert
Two members of the Afghanistan parliament have been accused of forcing a commercial airliner to fly back to its departure airport so that the pair could get on the plane after originally missing the flight. According to Al Jazeera, the incident occurred on Tuesday morning when Kam Air Flight RQ-814 took off from Kabul (KBL) for Bamiyan (BIN) in Afghanistan early in the morning, as scheduled. Parliament members Ghulam Hussain Naseri and Abdul Rahman Shaheedani were booked on the flight — but not on board amongst the 30 passengers.
As the short (81 mile-long) domestic flight approached Bamiyan, a number of airport police officers stood on the runway, blocking the aircraft from landing. One of the officers was Shaheedani's son, who was later arrested along with at least four others for their role in the incident.
Unable to safely land at Bamiyan, the Kam Air aircraft returned to Kabul, where the passengers disembarked and the plane was refueled. Then when the passengers reboarded for the second trip, the two MPs boarded with them.
Al Jazeera says it reviewed video of MP Shaheedani on the plane before its second takeoff for Bamiyan in which he's seen stating: "Everyone will now know who I am and what my power is." However, Shaheedani later denied any involvement in the aborted landing attempt.
"I did not play any role in this. The flight was diverted by my supporters in Bamiyan, I did not ask them to do this," Shaheedani told Al Jazeera.
The Afghan Civil Aviation Authority has filed an official complaint against the two members of the Lower House of Parliament, noting that the actions of the officers violated both Afghan and international law. It says it has begun an investigation of the incident.
H/T: Al Jazeera