Nut rage executive defends actions

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Published: Monday 2nd February 2015 by The News Editor

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The former Korean Air executive on trial after an in-flight tantrum over a serving of nuts defended her actions as the result of devotion to work in the final day of testimony.

Cho Hyun-ah told a Seoul court her behaviour was “wrong”, but she still believes cabin crew in first class did not follow proper procedures by offering macadamia nuts in a bag instead of on a dish.

“I think this case happened because of devotion to my work and because I could not be considerate to other people,” she said.

Ms Cho ordered the chief flight attendant off the December 5 flight after a confrontation with cabin crew, forcing the plane to return to the gate at John F Kennedy Airport in New York.

Ms Cho, the daughter of Korean Air’s chairman, has pleaded not guilty to charges of violating aviation safety law.

Ms Cho said she did not realise the chief flight attendant has law enforcement authority during the flight and that ordering him off the plane was consequently a risk to safety.

The “final call” about returning to the gate was made by the captain, she said.

Her behaviour, dubbed nut rage, caused an uproar in South Korea. The incident touched a nerve in a country where the economy is dominated by family-run conglomerates known as chaebol that often act above the law.

Last week, cabin crew told the court they were pressured by Korean Air executives to cover up the incident and to lie to investigators from South Korea’s transport ministry.

Lawyers for Ms Cho have not disputed the major elements of the prosecutor’s account of events. Instead, they have focused on a technical rebuttal of the charges. That has included trying to demonstrate flight attendants did not know proper service procedures.

On the most serious charge of changing a flight’s route, they argued events fell short of that definition because the plane was only metres from the gate when it turned back.

Ms Cho has been in custody since December 30 and could face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty of all four charges against her.

The three trial judges are expected to announce their verdict before Lunar New Year holidays in February.

Published: Monday 2nd February 2015 by The News Editor

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