KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 13 – Malaysia Airlines (MAS) has fired a flight steward who allegedlysexually assaulteda woman passenger on a flight to Paris in August, reported The Malaysian Insider. The National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (Nufam) today has cried foul over the sacking, citing the national carrier’s move as unlawful as the cabin crew has yet to be charged and tried for the alleged assault.
According to the news portal, Nufam revealed that the steward, who had served MAS for 32 years, was notified of his termination via a letter sent to his home in the Klang Valley two weeks after the alleged assault. The 57-year-old steward has been held by French police for investigation for sexual assault since the August 4 incident.
“How is he going to appeal when he didn’t know that he was sacked from his employment?” said Nufam president Ismail Nasaruddin. MAS, he added, had given the steward 60 days to appeal against the termination on grounds of “misconduct”. Ismail also claimed that MAS wanted to ‘wash its hands off’ the incident following the MH370 and MH17 incidents that has put the national carrier in bad light.
The union has referred the matter to the Industrial Relations Department to reinstate the 57-year-old employee. Lawyer Ragunath Kesavan, who spoke to The Malaysian Insider, said that MAS should have made an effort to secure the release of the steward from the detention centre. “The employee is deemed innocent until proven guilty by a court and MAS should have gone all the way to secure his freedom from the detention centre,” he said, adding that the sacking was ‘extremely harsh’ and MAS could have suspended him and paid 50 per cent of his wages.
Nufam claimed that MAS had not provided any assistance to the steward’s family. Meanwhile, Shailender Bhar, the lawyer who was engaged by the steward’s family, said French police had no jurisdiction to investigate the sexual assault on a passenger. This is due to the fact that the incident didn’t take place in that country or its airspace.
Instead, he said the steward should be sent home for investigation, as stipulated under the Tokyo Convention. Meanwhile, the complainant Laura Bushney had went on a TV showin a tell-all interview to recount the alleged attack where she claimed the steward came and sat down next to her three hour into the flight en route Paris where he started assaulting her under the guise of comforting.
The Australian-born Bushney, who was travelling by herself, recorded the incident on her iPhone hidden under a blanket on her lap. She claimed that the steward placed his hands under the blanket and then down her pants. She reportedly also recorded a face-to-face altercation with the steward after the incident. The steward, a married man with three children, was detained by police when the plane touched down at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.