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Swedish hijack suspect charged

Chatty: In custody pending a court hearing  

VASTERAS, Sweden (CNN) -- A Tunisian-born Swede has been charged with attempting to hijack and sabotage an aircraft or airport.

Kerim Sadok Chatty, 29, was also charged with the illegal possession of a firearm. He was arrested as he tried to board a Ryanair flight with a gun in his hand luggage.

Defence lawyer Nils Uggla told the court in Vasteras, west of Stockholm, that Chatty, who was remanded in custody for two weeks, denied all charges except for possession of a gun.

Chief Public Prosecutor Thomas Haggstrom, who read the charges to Chatty, asked for the remand in custody while police build their case against him.

In a form faxed to the court, they said Chatty was a flight risk, might destroy evidence and could pursue other criminal activity. They also indicated they have "certain especially important reasons" why he should be detained.

Chatty was detained in Vasteras on Thursday while trying to board Flight FR685 for London on the Irish discount carrier Ryanair after airport authorities found a handgun in his hand luggage, police said. (Full story)

CNN's Diana Muriel says the Swedish government charged Tunisian-born Kerim Sadok Chatty with attempted hijacking and sabotage (September 2)

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Some of the 164 passengers on the Boeing 737-800 were planning to attend an Islamic conference in Birmingham, England.

CNN's Diana Muriel in Vasteras said Swedish police did not believe Chatty was linked to the al Qaeda terrorist network but were investigating other possible terrorist links.

If convicted of attempted hijacking, Chatty could face a sentence of four years to life in prison.

American links

In September 1996, Chatty travelled to the United States to attend the North American Institute of Aviation in Conway, South Carolina, near Myrtle Beach, said Bob Sunday, the school's executive vice president.

Chatty enrolled in classes to learn to fly aircraft that weigh less than 12,500 pounds, such as Cessnas or Pipers, Sunday said. But he was apparently not a good student.

"After nearly seven months in the program, he did not have a pilot's licence," Sunday added. "Most students get a licence in 30 to 45 days."

Because of his lack of progress, the school expelled Chatty, said Sunday. His visa required he left America within 30 days of finishing at the school.

Sunday said he was not sure whether the school received a document proving Chatty complied with that rule. But he added that the school would have contacted authorities if it had not received notification.


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