A Philippines Airlines plane. Photo: iStock

A 42-year-old Filipino man was fined HK$2,000 (US$254) in the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court on Monday after pleading guilty to making a joke about having a bomb in his hand-carried bag on a Manila-bound flight in December last year.

Mates F Sumague, who worked as a seafarer in Hong Kong, was convicted on a charge of “communicating false information on the existence of a bomb” and said he was very remorseful for his offense, sunwebhk.com reported.

The court heard he was asked by a flight attendant on Philippines Airlines’ Flight PR 311 to put his bag in the overhead luggage storage while the aircraft was still on the tarmac.

He then told a female passenger there was a grenade in his hand-carried luggage. The passenger took the words seriously and told the cabin crew, who later called aviation security.

Sumague was arrested and the flight was delayed for an hour as officers searched for the grenade, but no explosive was found.

The defense lawyer said Sumague was only joking, but the prosecution said the case was a serious offense that normally calls for a minimum sentence of six months and a maximum two years in prison plus a fine.

Magistrate Ada Yim said she had considered the defendant’s admission of guilt and his clear record, so she decided to impose a fine of $2,000 to be taken from Sumague’s money in hand. He had been held in custody without bail since his arrest.

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