Armenian police neutralized but did not arrest an intoxicated and unruly Azerbaijani passenger of a Russian airliner that had to make an emergency landing in Yerevan on its way from Dubai to Moscow early on Tuesday.
The unidentified man, said to be in his 30s, reportedly shouted abuse and disturbed other passengers on board the Aeroflot flight. The RIA Novosti news agency quoted some of them as saying that several other male travelers helped flight attendants to overpower and tie him to his seat before the plane landed at Yerevan’s Zvartnots international airport.
“We stayed there for two-and-a-half hours,” one passenger said. “The pilots tried to hand over the Azerbaijani citizen to local police, but the Armenian authorities refused to take him. They only handcuffed him. Ambulance doctors who arrived at the airport injected him with a sedative and he fell asleep shortly afterwards.”
“We then proceeded to Moscow together with him,” added the unnamed eyewitness.
A spokesman for the Armenian civil aviation authority, Ruben Grdzelian, confirmed this information. “The airplane crew received assistance at the scene,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “Namely, the [Azerbaijani] citizen was tied down, given sedative medication and fell asleep.”
According to RIA Novosti, the unruly man was arrested by Russian police in Moscow. If charged, he will face up to 10 years in prison.
Shahen Petrosian, a former Armenian civil aviation chief, said that the police at Zvartnots were right not to arrest the passenger because the latter “didn’t pose a serious danger.” Petrosian said the Azerbaijani’s prosecution would have not only led to a “complicated” judicial process but also sparked more tension between Armenia and Azerbaijan.