A foreign national who was arrested on Saturday after trying to climb on a China Airlines (CAL) plane preparing to take off at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport continued to remain silent while being questioned by prosecutors yesterday.
The man was previously reported to be from Belarus, but prosecutors yesterday said they have yet to ascertain his nationality.
After spending the night at the airport’s immigration detention center, the suspect was sent to the Taoyuan District Prosecutors’ Office on Sunday morning, and charged with trespassing in the airport’s restricted area, in violation of the Civil Aviation Act (民用航空法).
The suspect has not spoken a word since his arrest at around 2pm on Saturday, despite immigration officers trying to communicate with him in different languages.
He did not have any form of identification on him when he was arrested, but police found a notebook written in Russian and a Bible in the two backpacks he had with him when he was arrested.
When approached by a Russian interpreter, the suspect continued to remain silent. Immigration officers have found no records of the man entering Taiwan, and they believe he may have been smuggled in.
If that is the case, he could face a maximum three-year prison term or a NT$90,000 fine for violating the Immigration Act (入出國及移民法), police said.
The dramatic incident was first noticed by a pilot of an Asiana Airlines flight that was waiting behind CAL flight CI028 to Palau, as the latter was taxiing toward the runway for takeoff, according to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport Co (TIAC).
The man was spotted darting out from bushes on airport grounds and then trying to climb onto the landing gear of the Boeing 737-800 jet at 1:55pm on Saturday, but he was later overpowered by airport security. The CAL flight, originally scheduled to depart at 1:35pm, was delayed.
It was the first time such an intrusion has taken place at Taiwan’s largest airport.
There was speculation that the man could have gotten into the area from the construction site of Terminal 3, but local authorities have yet to reach any conclusions about how the incident happened.