Navy to discipline sailor over airport bomb claim

Navy to discipline sailor over airport bomb claim

Chief petty officer apologises after causing stir at Hat Yai airport

The chief petty officer is caught on video during the incident at Hat Yai airport, Songkhla province. (Screenshot)
The chief petty officer is caught on video during the incident at Hat Yai airport, Songkhla province. (Screenshot)

A navy officer seen on video falsely intimating he had a bomb in his bag ahead of boarding a flight at Hat Yai airport will be investigated and disciplined, the Royal Thai Navy spokesman said on Friday.

V/Adm Pokkrong Manathatphalin said the navy would first conduct a fact-finding probe into the incident and then order disciplinary action.

The spokesman said the man who caused the disturbance at Hat Yai airport was a chief petty officer who intended to board a flight there to Don Mueang airport in Bangkok.

V/Adm Pokkrong said the navy apologised to personnel of Hat Yai airport for the man's misbehaviour.

He did not say when it occurred.

A video of the incident released on Thursday quickly went viral. It showed the man challenging airport staff to check his carry-on bag after it went through x-ray, saying he had a bomb.

This caused a disturbance. The man then claimed he had just intended to check if airport personnel would bother to actually check his bag for a bomb.

He told them he was not drunk and claimed to have been assigned to a special operation.

Airport personnel initially warned him he could not say the word "bomb"  at an airport, it was  prohibited. He challenged them to change the rules and said he wanted to talk to their supervisor.

The supervisor then showed up and spoke seriously to the officer, who calmed down and tried to apologise. The airport supervisor stood firm on taking legal action against him.

On Friday, V/Adm Pokkrong identified the chief petty officer as Pairote Khaokaew of the Naval Communications and Information Technology Department in Bangkok.

He said CPO1 Pairote would spend 14 days in the brig, have his allowances suspended and undergo disciplinary activities for a month.

His senior officers at two upper levels would also engage in their own disciplinary activities for 3-5 days, V/Adm Pokkrong said.

Hat Yai airport director Thananrat Prasertsri said on Friday that the incident happened at the airport about 9.15pm on Wednesday.

On Thursday, CPO1 Pairote, 41, returned to the airport to apologise to the staff before taking a flight to Bangkok, the director said.

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