Cho indicted on charges detailed by prosecution

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Cho indicted on charges detailed by prosecution

Cho Hyun-ah, the former vice president of Korean Air (KAL) who made international headlines last month following her nut rage tantrum aboard an Incheon-bound flight, was indicted Wednesday and handed over to the court, prosecutors said.

The Seoul Western Prosecutors’ Office also announced the results of an interim report of an investigation into whether Cho, the vice president of KAL and the eldest daughter of Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Yang-ho, had violated the Aviation Safety Law, among other charges.

The 40-year-old was charged with verbally and physically assaulting the aircraft’s chief steward and a flight attendant who did not serve the macadamia nuts in first class to her liking. In what was a clear violation of aviation safety regulations, Cho ordered the airplane bound for Incheon back to the gates at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on Dec. 5 to eject the chief steward, interrupting KE086’s flight plans, prosecutors said.

According to the report, Cho disrupted the cabin crew’s execution of its duties and used coercion to get them to change their testimonies and conceal evidence. She was also charged with obstruction of justice for her alleged intervention with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport’s investigation into the case.

Amid public outrage over the Transport Ministry’s shoddy investigation into the incident earlier in the month, Cho was detained on Dec. 30 pursuant to a pre-trial arrest warrant.

She initially denied that she assaulted the cabin crew on Dec. 12 during questioning with Transport Ministry officials. She also claimed that she did not know the plane had already departed and denied she broke aviation rules. However, prosecutors said that they interpreted her actions as having posed a safety threat, as the plane’s doors had already been shut and the aircraft had started to move.

According to a prosecutor, “Cho not only gave false testimonies during the Transport Ministry investigation but was receiving live updates as the company engaged in a systematic cover-up [of evidence], and was even sending out directions.”

BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]


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