Israeli admits to plane incident to avoid waiting for trial

A 52-year-old Russian-born Israeli citizen was fined €450 after he pleaded guilty to charges of negligently endangering a person inside an aircraft, by causing a disturbance on board whilst drunk, to avoid being remanded in custody.

The farcical situation, whereby foreign nationals accused of minor offences are better off pleading guilty and paying a fine, in spite of being innocent, was once again highlighted during a court arraignment this afternoon.

A 52-year-old Russian-born Israeli citizen was fined €450 after he pleaded guilty to charges of negligently endangering a person inside an aircraft, by causing a disturbance on board whilst drunk, to avoid being remanded in custody.

Police Inspector Silvio Magro arraigned Boris Sapoznikov before Magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera this afternoon, charging him with recklessly endangering persons inside an aircraft, being drunk on board an aircraft and breaching the peace.

It is understood that when the man had arrived on a flight to Malta yesterday, he had used what was deemed to be excessive force in trying to wake up his wife, who was also drunk. Before the flight, Sapoznikov and his wife had allegedly consumed an entire bottle of vodka, which they had purchased from duty free in Israel.

Upon landing in Malta and unable to wake his sleeping wife with more subtle means, Sapoznikov is understood to have hit the woman’s head against the bulkhead. She was uninjured and did not press charges.

In court today, Sapoznikov appeared to refuse its offer to appoint a lawyer to defend him.

The man initially pleaded not guilty to the charges, telling the court, “I was drunk but I didn’t harm anyone,” through his interpreter. Magistrate Scerri Herrera however pointed out that he was not charged with harming people, but with other offences.

The Magistrate then asked him what he was pleading, initially mentioning a fine of just under €1,000. “I came to Malta for a holiday,” said Sapoznikov. “I don‘t want to go to prison. When you said €1,000, I do not have that money.”

However, when the court was about to order that he be remanded in custody, the increasingly agitated man then changed his plea to an admission. 

Sapoznikov was ordered to pay a fine of €450.

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