PIA DRUGS SCANDAL
A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) steward has been charged following the seizure of approximately two and a half kilograms of heroin at Leeds Bradford International Airport.
Syed Shahrukh Shah, 31, from Pakistan, appeared at the Leeds Magistrate’s Court on Thursday 22nd November charged with the importation of a Class-A drug.
Shah did not enter a plea and has been remanded in custody until his next court appearance at Leeds Crown Court on 5th December.
The drugs were found inside the baggage that belongs to Shah, and arrived on a flight from Islamabad, Pakistan on Wednesday night.
Following the seizure by Border Force, the investigation and prosecution are being carried out by the National Crime Agency.
Kevin Parsons, acting assistant director for Border Force, said: “This is an excellent seizure of an extremely harmful drug and I would like to pay tribute to the vigilance and hard work of the officers involved. We will continue to work hard to keep our borders safe and crack down on drug smuggling.”
Faiz, father-of-two, was more than three times over the alcohol limit, as he was about to fly an Airbus with 156 people on board to Pakistan from Leeds Bradford Airport on 18th September.
He was about to pilot the Pakistan International Airlines 776 flight to Islamabad, when he was asked to leave the cockpit due to concerns raised by security staff.
Faiz gave an initial reading of 41 microgrammes in 100 millilitres of breath on the police officer's hand-held device. The legal limit for driving a car is 35 microgrammes but for flying in the UK it’s just nine, the court heard.
He later gave a reading on the evidential machine of 28.
Faiz's barrister, Paul Greaney QC, told the court his client was not a heavy drinker but was under a lot of stress at the time because of a kidnap threat against his family back home.
Mr Greaney also told the judge that, despite being an experienced pilot, Faiz was not aware of the drink-fly rules in the UK and that the rules in Pakistan are that there must be a 12-hour gap between ''bottle and throttle''.
Mr Justice Coulson at Leeds Crown Court said he was ''astonished'' to hear that pilots regularly flying out of the UK were not aware of the rules in this country, which are based on the amount of alcohol present in the body.
The court heard that Faiz was an experienced and wellrespected pilot with 25 years' experience and an unblemished record. He has been sentenced to nine months imprisonment Solicitor Abdul Iftikhar, of Kamrans Solicitors, who are representing Faiz has confirmed to the Asian Express that they’ll be lodging an appeal against the sentence of nine months imprisonment.
Mr Iftikhar said: “The basis of the appeal is that it is manifestly excessive in all the circumstances of his case and that the Court of Appeal will be requested to deal with Captain Faiz’s case on an expedited basis.”
A source at the UK’s National Crime Agency told reporters that the agency was concerned about the rise in the numbers of PIA staff involved in the smuggling of Class-A drugs into the UK.