By Staff Reporter
The sentencing of a Cypriot student in Britain for taking eight explosive flares on to a plane at a major UK airport and possessing a terrorist manual, has been adjourned until November 7.
According to reports in the British press, Andreas Pierides, 22, a student at Southampton University, appeared in court on Monday.
The Omonia fan had been stopped on the gangway at Stansted Airport as he was about to board a flight to Cyprus on May 15. Police were alerted to Pierides after a member of the public spotted him on a train reading an electronic publication with instructions on how to make a car bomb on January 19.
As they arrested him, officers seized a box of distress signal mini-flares which they found inside luggage which had already been stowed on the plane.
But they handed them back in error after Pierides was charged for having a terrorist manual.
Five days later, police went to his bail address in north London to ask for the flares back and arrest him again, this time under the Aviation Security Act 1982.
At a hearing at the Old Bailey, Pierides, who may still face a jail sentence, pleaded guilty to a charge under the 2000 Terrorism Act of possessing an electronic version of the Anarchist Cookbook. He also admitted having a dangerous article in an airport.
During his court appearance on Monday Pierides said he only bought the flares to use if he ran into trouble while on his jetski, reports in the British press said.
“It was the first time I saw them where it said they were waterproof. If I wanted to use a flare at a football match I would use a handheld flare – you can get them anywhere in Cyprus. To light flares is something common in Cyprus,” he told the court.
It was also reported that Pierides’ uncle is employed at CID in Cyprus and his mother used to be a member of the rapid response unit MMAD before becoming a training officer in the Cypriot force.
The reports said he admitted having the anarchist cookbook and other documents in a folder titled ‘Anarchism’ but told the court: ‘I am not associated with the anarchist movement but I know things about anarchist and left wing and about right wing.’
Alistair Richardson, the prosecutor was quoted as saying: “He admitted in interview his links with a group of ultra supporters of the Omonia football team. He had photos demonstrating the link between Omonia and the use of flares at football stadia.” He also said that an analysis of Pierides phone showed text messages discussing the sale and purchase of fireworks, flares, firecrackers and smoke bombs.
“This is a man who has an obvious interest in flares linked to football,” said the prosecutor.
The court adjourned sentencing until November 7. Pierides remains out on conditional bail.
In an earlier hearing, the court heard that the flares had been packed in a compact box and would only have exploded if there had been an external fire aboard the aircraft.
Prosecutors said it was accepted that the defendant had been “stupid and naive” and did not associate with terrorists. The defence has pleaded for a suspended sentence.