Crazed Malaysia Airlines passenger delays his hearing by three hours

Malaysia Airlines passenger refuses to come out of his cell and delays first hearing at Downing Centre Local Court

  • Muhammad Ali Arif delayed his hearing
  • He allegedly caused trouble on a plane
  • Video shows him ranting at passengers 

Malaysia Airlines passenger who allegedly went on a heated rant before being arrested by federal police has delayed his first court appearance by nearly three hours by refusing to leave his cell.

Muhammad Ali Arif, 55, was charged by Australian Federal Police after allegedly claiming to have ‘dangerous’ items and calling himself a ‘slave of Allah’ during a flight on Monday night.

Flight MH122 to Kuala Lumpur made an emergency return to Sydney Airport and passengers were forced to wait onboard for several hours.

Arif was set to appear before Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court via video link on Tuesday morning but would not leave his cell.

‘Apparently he’s refusing to come out,’ Magistrate Greg Grogin said.

‘They would have to extract him if he’s to come before the court.’

Muhammad Ali Arif (left) refused to leave his cell on Tuesday after allegedly causing a plane headed to Kuala Lumpur from Sydney to turn around

Arif (above) unexpectedly arranged his own private representation and delayed his first court hearing by nearly three hours

A Legal Aid lawyer was in the courtroom awaiting Arif’s appearance when the court was told he has unexpectedly arranged his own private representation.

When the matter returned to court in the afternoon, Arif’s solicitor Mostafa Daoudie said his client was suffering from serious mental health issues.

He requested Magistrate Grogin order a mental health assessment.

Mr Daoudie told the court that one of his colleagues spoke to Arif on Tuesday morning and he ‘didn’t seem to understand the situation he’s in’ and the charges he was facing.

He also said Arif had refused again to leave his cell to speak with him.

Mr Daoudie asked for the matter to be stood down for a few hours so he could go to Surry Hills Police Station to speak to his client in person.

Arif was charged for making a false statement and not complying with directions. 

If found guilty and convicted, he faces a potential maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of over $15,000 for the two offences.

Arif, a dual Pakistani-Australian citizen, was arrested at Sydney Airport at about 7pm on Monday and spent the night in custody.

Witnesses onboard flight MH122 from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur alleged Arif began claiming he had ‘something dangerous’ inside his bag about 45 minutes into the trip.

‘I think for a lot of people it would have been quite disturbing. They would be quite traumatised by it. There were children, babies, it was quite scary,’ passenger Edo Kahn, who runs charity A Sound Life, said after leaving the plane.

‘He then reached into his bag and pulled out the Koran.’

Arif (above) was charged with two counts of making a false statement and not complying with directions following a flight on Monday night

Flight MH122 from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur was forced to return to Sydney after Arif allegedly claimed to be in possession of 'dangerous' items

Members of the flight crew subsequently examined the bag but did not find anything dangerous inside.

The plane landed in Sydney shortly before 4pm and was isolated at the end of a runway.

Passengers were moved to another area of the Airbus-A330 and were finally evacuated after Arif was arrested, about three hours later.

All flights in and out of Sydney were grounded for hours due, sparking massive travel delays.

Several passengers onboard the flight said they received little to no information from cabin crew as the flight was grounded.

One woman said her children were very frightened and kept asking her, ‘What’s happening Mummy?’. 

‘We were waiting for that to happen… the police have done a great job… they have a protocol to follow, I understand, so it’s not easy,’ the mother said.

‘They did the best, the bomb squad, all these people but it could have been faster and better.’

Passenger Fiona Roux said the worst thing about the situation was the lack of information. 

‘We knew the plane was turning around. We could see it on the inflight screen,’ she said.

‘The commotion was on and off. (It was) not alarming. When I really understood what was going on it was the landing and the abrupt stop.’

Like many of her fellow passengers, Ms Roux ‘found out what was actually happening’ through media reports.

The plane landed in Sydney shortly before 4pm and was isolated at the end of a runway, passengers waited onboard for several hours (pictured, the plane's flight path)

Another passenger, Kira Burrows, said she has given up on her planned trip.

‘I don’t feel like sitting on another plane, so my husband is picking me up. I’m going home,’ she said.  

Ms Burrows, said the main problem was ‘not knowing (what was happening). The staff were incredible… they were trying to keep everyone calm.

‘We were just on there way too long in my opinion,’ she said. 

A video taken onboard the plane showed Arif being confronted by an air steward before a bizarre exchange.

A traveller on board the flight captioned the video: ‘Sydney Airport is suffering at the hands of this lunatic. 

‘Praying for everyone’s safety and well being. Where is airport security? It’s been well over an hour since the plane has landed back!’

Another passenger also tweeted: ‘This guy should have been stopped at the gate before boarding, his actions were unsettling from start.’ 

He added: ‘Flight got diverted back to Sydney due this random idiot who started threatening staff and passengers.

Arif (left) was arrested at Sydney Airport at around 7pm on Monday and spent the night in custody

In a statement, Malaysia Airlines said: ‘In the interests of safety, the commander of the flight made the decision to return to Sydney.

‘The flight, carrying 194 passengers and five crew onboard, landed safely at 3.47pm hours.

‘The safety and comfort of our crew and passengers are of utmost importance to Malaysia Airlines.’

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