Mexican on hunger strike in Kolkata jail


Kolkata : A Mexican tourist, arrested for threatening his co-passengers on board an Indian flight in March, has resorted to a hunger strike in a jail here, demanding his freedom.

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Febles Ortiz Eduardo Antonio, who was arrested March 21 for allegedly threatening the passengers on board a Delhi-Bangkok flight, was granted bail by the Barrackpore sub-divisional court against Rs.450,000. But he could not pay the amount and hence had to be rearrested. The foreigner has now started a hunger strike for his freedom.

The 47-year-old tourist has been in the Barrackpore correctional home near here for almost a month since his bail.

"Antonio was arrested as he could not meet the bail amount fixed by the court. He said the amount was too high and beyond his means," Inspector General of Police (Prisons) B.D. Sharma told IANS.

He said Antonio also expressed his grievances against the judicial system and began a hunger strike inside the jail from June 5, demanding his release.

"He stopped having food from Tuesday night and now we are planning to shift him to Dum Dum correctional home where hospital facilities are available. We can then provide him with medical treatment if his condition deteriorates," Sharma said.

On March 21, Antonio was drunk and had threatened to "blow up the aircraft with bombs kept under his seat", triggering a mid-air scare.

The Mexican also forced the pilot to make an emergency landing at Kolkata airport. Air marshals later overpowered Antonio and handed him over to the police at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International (NSCBI) airport.

He was arrested on the basis of a complaint lodged by the pilot of the Indian flight (IC-854). Police said Antonio was charged under various sections of Indian Penal Code and Civil Aviation Act.