Six soccer players face federal charges for unruly airplane behavior

Tue Sep 1, 2015 7:13pm EDT
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By Lisa Maria Garza

DALLAS (Reuters) - Six soccer players from San Diego who were flying on Monday to a tournament in Chicago are facing federal charges for "disruptive" behavior that caused a Southwest Airlines plane to be diverted to Texas, officials said on Tuesday.

Saiman Hermez, 19, Jonathan Petras, 20, Ghazwan Shaba, 21, Essa Solaqa, 20, Khalid Yohana, 19, and Wisam Shaker, 23, were charged with interference with a flight crew and aiding and abetting, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Texas said.

Prosecutors said they face up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000 each.According to a federal complaint, the six men were sitting together aboard Southwest Airline flight 1522 and disregarded flight crew instructions to quiet down, responding that "they could be as loud as they want."

"The defendants did not comply with anything they were asked to do; they were repeatedly standing up and becoming increasingly louder and attempted to incite other passengers to join their non-compliant behavior," the attorney's office said.

The plane was diverted to an airport in Amarillo where the men were removed from the flight before it continued on to land at Chicago Midway International Airport.

Randall County online jail records did not list a lawyer or bail amount for any of the men. They are scheduled to appear in Amarillo federal court on Wednesday.

(Editing by Jon Herskovitz and Lisa Lambert)