Spain investigates emergency landing, suspects migrant ploy

MADRID (AP) — A Spanish court has ordered 12 men to be held without bail on suspicion they faked an in-flight medical emergency to make a plane land in Mallorca and give them a chance to enter Europe illegally.

The court also said late Monday that the group allegedly menaced the flight crew.

Authorities are investigating events surrounding the unscheduled landing in Spain due to a medical emergency late Friday on an Air Arabia flight heading to Istanbul from Casablanca, Morocco.

Investigators are looking into whether the incident was staged as part of a conspiracy among the arrested men. The court didn’t give their nationalities.

The plane landed at Palma de Mallorca airport to provide assistance to a supposedly ill passenger.

After landing, a group of passengers coerced the crew into letting them get off the plane and jumped onto the tarmac. They allegedly attempted to leave the airport without going through immigration controls.

The incident forced the airport to close for several hours as authorities searched for the men.

The man who allegedly faked the medical condition was arrested at the hospital, where he was taken by ambulance. Spanish police arrested the other men at different locations over the weekend.

The court accuses the 12 men of sedition, on land and on a plane, and of coercion. Two of them also stand accused of promoting illegal immigration. An act of sedition carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison in Spain.

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