Sierra Leone man charged with Air France plane arson attempt

An Air France aircraft at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, France.
An Air France aircraft at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, France.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

FREETOWN (AFP) - A man was charged with attempting to set fire to an Air France plane at Sierra Leone’s biggest airport after penetrating the secure zone without a passport or boarding card, court officials told AFP on Tuesday (June 28).

Airport officials promised security would be stepped up after Ibrahim Kanu attempted to board the flight armed with petrol, matches and a cigarette lighter on June 4 at Lungi International Airport, close to the capital of Freetown.

The prosecution at a Monday hearing said Kanu had entered the restricted area reserved for staff and took a bus connecting to the plane, believed to have been an Airbus A330-200 headed for Paris.

Air France confirmed to AFP that an individual had managed to penetrate a restricted area, but said he was stopped as he attempted to get on the bus heading for Flight AF770 and handed over to police.

A British firm, Westminster Group, is contracted to provide security at the airport but has yet to comment publicly.

Kanu’s bail application was rejected on the grounds there was a risk of him fleeing, and because he is accused of “a very serious criminal offence”.

General manager of the Airport Authority Idrissa Fofanah told journalists security surveillance had been stepped up following the incident.