KAL releases footage in defense of Cho Hyun-ah

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KAL releases footage in defense of Cho Hyun-ah

Korean Air (KAL) released video footage Tuesday to back up the claim that its former Vice President Cho Hyun-ah did not force the pilot to change the flight route of the Incheon-bound plane she boarded on Dec. 5 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

The four-minute clip was presented by the national air carrier in an effort to back up arguments by Cho’s criminal defense lawyer.

In the clip, the plane is seen being towed over what KAL claimed was 17 meters (55.7 feet). The process took 23 seconds. After three minutes, the plane is again towed forward for 17 meters to eject the plane’s cabin crew manager off the flight.

In a press release, KAL contended that Cho did not compromise aviation safety because the plane was on the ground with its engines off.

Explaining that a plane must be at least 200 meters above ground to be considered on a flight route, Cho’s former company contended that her conduct did not constitute a violation of aviation safety.

KAL’s release of the footage came a day after Cho’s lawyer argued at the start of her trial Monday that she should not be held accountable for violating aviation safety because the plane was not in the air.

Monday’s proceedings were the first over the case concerning Cho’s conduct on Dec. 5, when she became enraged and chastised a flight attendant for serving her macadamia nuts in the packaging rather than on a plate. She subsequently ordered the pilot to return the plane to the gate so that she could eject the cabin crew manager.

Cho’s legal defense team added that some of the media reports over what has become known as the “nut rage” case have been exaggerated, and cited a lack of evidence and conflicting testimony from witnesses. It also denied allegations that she was physically abusive toward the cabin crew manager and a flight attendant.

Prosecutors maintain that Cho forced the flight to change its route after the plane had already begun moving toward the runway, violating aviation safety. If convicted, Cho faces up to 10 years in prison.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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