Shaheen Air pilot sent to jail on 14-day remand

LAHORE: The pilot in command of a Shaheen Air International plane that skidded off the runway in Lahore earlier this month was sent to jail on a 14-day remand on Friday.

Captain Asmat Mehmood was arrested from his residence in Karachi after a medical report found he was intoxicated with high levels of blood alcohol and fatigued during the NL-142 Karachi to Lahore flight.

The Boeing 737 had skidded off the airstrip onto a grassy patch shortly after the emergency landing, endangering the lives of the 121 passengers and crew on board. Nobody was hurt in the incident, but the plane suffered serious damage in what could have resulted in a major disaster.

Mehmood has rejected the medical report, denying that he had consumed alcohol during or before the flight and claiming that he was being framed. The pilot claims that the accident happened because the tyres burst, and that he managed to land the aircraft safely despite the faulty landing gear.

During the hearing at an anti-terrorism court in Lahore, a lawyer for Mehmood argued that terrorism charges should be removed from the case registered against the pilot. The lawyer pleaded to the court that terrorism charges cannot be applied on the defendant merely because of an emergency landing.

The public prosecutor told the court that the co-pilot claims Mehmood had consumed alcohol and was intoxicated during the flight.

The court remanded Mehmood into police custody for 14 days.

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