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Arlanda bomb suspect remains in Sweden

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Arlanda bomb suspect remains in Sweden
10:53 CEST+02:00
The 28-year-old man who was on Saturday a suspect in a bomb threat at Stockholm Arlanda Airport remains in Sweden after having been refused carriage on a flight to Pakistan, despite the case being closed.

"We tried to get him on a flight yesterday but the airline refused to take him. We are now working to try to resolve the situation so that he can get away to Pakistan," said Per-Åke Wallberg, detective-inspector at Arlanda police.

The 28-year-old man was on his way to Pakistan to be married when the plane on which he was travelling was forced to land at Stockholm Arlanda Airport on Saturday morning after a woman had called Canadian police warning that there may be explosives on board.

Swedish police closed the case on Sunday after extensive interviews with the 28-year-old, fellow passengers and crew, calling the whole incident a "misunderstanding".

The man told police in interviews that he has siblings and parents in Canada. The idea was that he would travel ahead to Pakistan and prepare for the wedding and then the rest of the family, including his elderly mother, would follow later.

"He was so happy that she was not on the plane as she has a weak heart. He did not think that she would have survived this," Wallberg said.

The man was reported to have been calm when he was apprehended by police onboard the plane which was on its way from Toronto to Karachi, Pakistan.

"I understand, it is 'national security', he said. Then we had a positive chat," said Wallberg.

"That which has emerged and become the gist of the story is that everything is one big misunderstanding. Someone has accused him of this and he is totally innocent," said Wallberg.

During the questioning of passengers, it emerged that the man was perceived to have behaved strangely on the plane but it all turned out to have logical explanations.

"It was the first time he had gone abroad and he was flying long distance. Of course he was a bit jumpy and nervous."

Someone also said that he had switched seats in the aircraft, and changed his clothes. But even this turned out to be completely innocent.

"It was a gesture on his part. He offered to trade places with a mother so that she could sit with her children. When he changed places, he took off his jacket and people perceived this to mean that he had changed clothes," Wallberg said.

The plane, a Boeing 777 operated by Pakistan International Airlines, was on its way from Toronto to Karachi, Pakistan when it was forced to make an emergency landing at Arlanda shortly after 7.30am.

The landing was prompted after Canadian police, through the country's air traffic authorities, contacted the pilot in the air and said that there may be a suspicious person on board.

Shortly before 7am local time, the pilot contacted air traffic control at the airport and requested landing rights, saying there was a person suspected of having explosives on board.

Passengers were evacuated from the plane and led inside the terminal two hours after landing, where they received food and assistance.

The airplane left for Manchester at 5pm local time to continue its journey to Karachi because the crew was too tired to complete the flight to Pakistan, Arlanda Airport spokesman Jan Lindqvist said.

Regular air traffic at Arlanda was unaffected by the threat. Terminals remained open as usual and all remaining flights left on schedule.

"We have so much capacity that we can put a plane to the side so that it doesn't affect other traffic," Anders Bredfell, press director at the airport, told TT earlier on Saturday.

Separately, Canadian police said Saturday they were looking into whether the bomb alert was a hoax. Under Canadian law, a "terrorist hoax" is a crime punishable with prison time, a spokesman with the Royal Mounted Police in Toronto, Marc Laporte, told AFP.

While the Canadian police remain in the dark over the identity of the caller, the 28-year-old has his suspicions.

"He has a theory over who might have called," said Per-Åke Wallberg.

Swedish police have now contacted their colleagues in Canada to assist with information that can help them in their investigation.

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