Facebook instructions said there would be no police. | Efe


Defence lawyers for the twelve passengers arrested following the emergency landing of an Air Arabia Maroc Airbus in Palma last Friday are appealing the court decision to order them to be held in custody on charges of two counts of sedition.

They argue that the events do not meet the criteria for either of these under air navigation criminal law and the penal code as it applies to uprising. They therefore reject that there was a preconceived plan to rise up against the state and argue that the twelve reacted to the surprise of the emergency situation. Although they could be deemed to have been reckless when exiting the plane, they did not use violence. The lawyers' view is that the appropriate procedural channel would be deportation. This would neutralise the risk of flight that was a factor in ordering precautionary imprisonment.

Arriving at its decision, the court of instruction in Palma took account of police investigations of a Facebook group through which volunteers were apparently sought in order to carry out a plan for illegal entry into Spain by air.

Instructions were given as to how to carry out "the escape". It consisted of taking a plane to Turkey and carrying a GPS device to detect when the aircraft flies into Spanish airspace. At that moment, there should be a medical problem. "The stewardess will ask for patience until the plane arrives in Turkey, but others will protest, claiming that the passenger is going to die."

If there is sufficient pressure from a number of people, "the plane will make a forced landing in Spain in order to protect the reputation of the airline and to free itself from liability".

The instructions on Facebook, although they did not fully match events in Palma, said that passengers would be taken to a terminal where there would only be a private security guard who could not prevent them from fleeing. "There are no police on the site."

Investigators also consider it revealing that, of the 22 passengers who fled, just one had checked in any luggage. The rest only had backpacks as hand luggage.