Vietnam Airlines denies assaulting martial arts coach
Apr 22, 2011, 9:04 GMT
Hanoi - Vietnam Airlines denied the accusations of a top martial arts coach that staff used violence against him on a flight from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, a spokesman said Friday.
Le Minh Khuong, coach of Vietnam's national tae kwon do team, said airline staff used a taser and pressed his face to the floor to restrain him Tuesday after he asked to leave a plane following a diversion to Da Nang airport because of bad weather.
The airline denied the accusations, saying Khuong had been escorted from the plane after shouting at staff and refusing to return to his seat when requested.
In an interview with the website Vn Express, Khuong's lawyer Tran Thu Nam said his client 'never shouted and protested.'
'Khuong only asked to get his ticket counterfoil,' Nam said in the report.
Khuong was preparing to go to South Korea to work as an international referee, the report said.
The national coach does not intend to sue the airline because he is 'too busy', a report in newspaper Tuoi Tre said Friday. However, he does want an apology from the company, it said.
The case sparked a media frenzy in Vietnam as two passengers on the flight publicly supported Khoung's claim and three denied it.
Among the coach's supporters was singer Quang Ha, who was quoted in several media reports as saying security guards used an electric baton against Khuong.
However, another witness who took photographs of the incident, director of Viking Travel Eileen Tan, said she had little sympathy for the martial arts coach.
'He was very rude and started shouting at the stewardess, and the poor lady was almost in tears, but she bravely told him firmly that he was to go back to his seat,' she said.
Tan said she didn't know Khuong was a national martial arts coach until she watched the news the next day.
'He was behaving so badly,' she said. '[As a national coach], he's a disgrace to the country.'
Tan sent her account to Vietnam Airlines, but the company had not contacted her, although it had passed on the information to journalists, she said.
A flight attendant for Vietnam Airlines who declined to be named said the situation must have been quite serious for staff to call security.
'We avoid calling security to come aboard, so the staff must have been really nervous,' the employee said.
The Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam said it was investigating the incident.
Vietnam Airlines has banned at least eight passengers for unruly behaviour since 2006, Vn Express said.
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