Dubai: An off-duty pilot challenged his one-year imprisonment and denied getting drunk, assaulting an air hostess and passengers and risking their lives and a plane’s safety before the Appeal Court on Sunday.

In November, the Dubai Court of First Instance jailed the 27-year-old Emirati defendant for a year after convicting him of getting drunk, cursing passengers and risking their lives, when he threatened to have an Emirates flight downed by a missile.

The Emirates aircraft was flying from Madrid to Dubai in June 2018, when a Romanian air hostess encountered the off-duty Emirati pilot, who was drunk and behaved in an unruly manner.

As the crew were embarking passengers in Madrid and the aircraft was getting ready for departure, the Emirati, who was a passenger on-board, asked the Romanian air hostess if smoking was allowed on the aircraft.

Shortly after being seated, the defendant insulted and assaulted the Romanian, grabbed two beers without the crew members’ permission.

When crew members asked him to behave properly and to refrain from using foul language, the defendant turned rude to a passenger. Then crew members restrained him with plastic handcuffs.

After being restrained in his seat, the 27-year-old turned more aggressive and shouted that he would have his Iraqi friend down the plane with a missile over Baghdad.

He also hit his head repeatedly on the TV screen in front of him and destroyed it, and damaged a window before threatening to follow the Romanian to her house and kill her.

The defendant, who had pleaded guilty before the primary court, appealed his judgement and pleaded not guilty before the Appeal Court.

He refuted all his accusations as he appeared before presiding judge Eisa Al Sharif in courtroom 20 on Sunday.

He repeatedly said ‘no’ when charges were levelled against him.

Meanwhile, his lawyer contended before presiding judge Al Sharif: “My client did not drink alcohol. Blood tests did not show any alcohol in his system. Prosecution witnesses’ statement were inconsistent and full of contradictions. Due to the circumstances of the case, we ask the court to treat the defendant with utmost leniency. He is the only son of his parents, he works in a reputable job and he had a clean criminal record prior to this case. We ask the court to grant him clemency and reduce the imprisonment to the lowest and most lenient punishment possible [three months in jail].”

The lawyer argued before the appellate court that his client has already spent half of his punishment and defended: “We ask the court to acquit him or reduce his jail term.”

Records said the accused was apprehended by the police once the plane landed at Dubai International Airport.

The accused provided the court with a written waiver that he obtained from the Romanian air hostess.

According to charge sheet, the Emirati was accused of drinking, endangering the safety of the Emirates flight and passengers, when he shouted on-board that he would have the plane blown up mid-air.

A ruling will be heard on December 16.