ADDIS ABEBA – An Ethiopian man has been sentenced to four months in prison for joking about a bomb in Kenya Airways flight.
A Kenyan TV reported an Ethiopian, identified as Chifraye Bekele, was accused of threatening the safety of other passengers with his joke, which also led to the cancellation of the Johannesburg-bound flight.
His joke also led to a three-hour shutdown of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).
Chifraye was taken into custody and has been in prison since then.
In a court ruling on Tuesday, a Judge found his guilty of “imperiling the safety of aircraft and persons on board”, reports claim.
Chifraye is claimed to have mentioned to a flight attendant who was closing an overhead locker: “Why are you scared? You think it’s a bomb?”
Consequently, after consulting with her colleagues, the captain opted to have the plane undergo a thorough search. All passengers had to disembark, resulting in the cancellation of the flight.
But the magistrate sentenced him to four months in jail or a 100,000 Kenyan shillings ($1,000) fine, according to the BBC.
At the moment he cannot pay the fine, so remains in prison. He is stated to have failed to raise the amount, hence remains in prison.
According to BBC’s report, he is not the only traveler to have found a joke that crossed a line.
A British student nearly faced up to 15 years in jail in the US in 2004 for joking that she was carrying bombs – she was allowed to return home after agreeing to donate $1,000 to a 9/11 victims’ fund and write a letter of apology.
In 2013 a man was briefly detained at JFK International Airport in New York after being overheard using the word “bomb” to a friend. It turned out he was just talking about a sandwich, known as “The Bomb”.