Men appear in British court over Pakistan plane incident

LONDON (AFP) - Two British men accused of threatening to blow up a Pakistan International Airways (PIA) plane and kill its passengers and crew were remanded in custody following a court hearing on Monday.

Taxi driver and supermarket employee Tayyab Subhani, 30, and restaurant worker Mohammed Safdar, 41, were charged with endangering an aircraft following a mid-air incident on Friday.

The friends did not enter a plea at Chelmsford Magistrates Court near London, speaking only to confirm their names and addresses, but their lawyers said they would deny the charge.

The British-born men, from near Manchester in north-western England, were arrested at Stansted Airport after PIA flight PK709 had to be diverted to the air hub near London.

They had been travelling home on the Lahore to Manchester flight after attending Safdar's mother's funeral, the court heard.

The pilot reported threats being made and a Royal Air Force (RAF) fighter jet was scrambled to escort the Boeing 777, which was carrying 308 passengers, to Stansted.

The count alleges that the two men made false threats that the "crew and passengers would be killed and the aircraft blown up before landing, which was false, misleading or deceptive".

The charge of endangering an aircraft carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Safdar, a married father-of-three, and Subhani, both now living in Nelson near Burnley, were remanded in custody and will appear back in court on August 5 for a plea hearing.

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