A well known Kenyan-Swiss entrepreneur, event organiser, philanthropist and biker was arrested in Bangkok for joking about having a bomb aboard a flight. His parents however disputed this and claimed the whole issue was fictitious and was created due to a racial dispute.
Reto Steinacher, proprieter and owner of the famous Reisebüro Glärnisch AG based in Näfels Switzerland was shortly before Christmas involved in a dispute aboard a flight that led to his arrest and continued stay in Bangkok, Thailand.
According to the police the 36-year-old tourist was arrested following an incident onboard Bangkok Airways flight PG145 from Suvarnabhumi airport to the resort island. Mr Steinacher, who was travelling alone on the flight, suddenly shouted that there was a bomb on the plane and four American passengers sitting nearby promptly alerted a crew member. Pilots aborted the take-off and returned the Airbus A319 aircraft with 100 passengers and seven crew members to an isolated parking area for safety.
However, according to Reto’s father, Urs Steinacher, speaking to Südost-Schweiz, the whole incident never happened as claimed. Apparently, the four Americans made racial slurs againt Reto before accusing him of being a terrorist due to his skin colour and threatened not to fly on the same plane with Reto. “The four American passengers had earlier announced that they wouldn’t fly onboard that plane if Reto was with them”. This in turn led to a disagreement. Reto became aggresive then started shouting, at which point he was escorted out of the plane. Shortly after, he called his father and explained what happened before his phone was taken from him by the police. A while later, the story was in the media and there was the mention of a bomb. Although the Americans claimed Reto shouted the threat in the plane, only the four of them heard it. The plane was searched and no bomb found. “How do you explain only the 4 Americans out of 99 passengers heard the threat?” Urs believes the whole incident was racially motivated.
The passenger denied charges of violating the Aviation Act during interrogation and was eventually released from police custody. Reto remains in Bangkok awaiting the court ruling. If found guilty, he will be sentenced to up to five years imprisonment and a fine of up to 5,000 euros.
Although his name and picture has been plastered on all Thai newspapers with insinuations of him being a member of ISIS or just a regular terrorist, Reto is very well known in the Glarus Canton. First due to his tours company as well as due to the numerous events he organises in the area. Many friends have come out to support him and his family, as they hope for his quick return home. His short holiday in the islands has ended up into a drawn out stay in Bangkok, where he was only on transit.