The woman accused of hijacking an aircraft that landed at Christchurch airport yesterday has agreed to a psychiatric assessment ahead of a second appearance in court.
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Asha Ali Abdille, 33, appeared in Christchurch District Court this morning charged with hijacking a plane as well as wounding one of the pilots with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and two charges of injuring with intent. The other two victims are named as a man and a woman.
The charge of hijacking carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Abdille stood in the dock buried beneath a large dark blue hooded sweatshirt - something that is not normally allowed in court. Her face was barely visible and she stood still with her arms folded in front of her.
Justice of the Peace (JP) Tom Grigg ordered Abdille be remanded in custody at a "suitable hospital" until a further appearance on February 22.
Police requested she be committed for a psychiatric report. Abdille had consented to this and Grigg agreed.
"We make this decision based on your consent and we direct that you be held in a suitable hospital under Section 38 2 (c) of the criminal proceeding mentally impaired persons act 2003," Grigg said.
Earlier, media cameras were denied a request to photograph Abdille in court.
Grigg also agreed to a police request for the identities of the three people allegedly stabbed by Abidille to be suppressed.
TVNZ and TV3 argued in a closed-court session before the official sitting for television coverage to be allowed.
They spoke of the huge national and international interest in the event, and pressure for fresh coverage from Australia and Britain. Fraser described it as the first time in the history of New Zealand that someone had been charged with hijacking.
But Grigg and JP Percy Acton-Adams declined the media applications. Mr Grigg said: "It is not a trial. The media guidelines don't necessarily apply in this remand court."
He said he did not believe filming would add anything to the story, and duty solicitor Kerry Cook said he believed coverage in words alone would be sufficient for the remand appearance.
Abdille was arrested at Christchurch Airport yesterday morning after allegedly stabbing three people during an Eagle Air flight from Blenheim to Christchurch.
The main charge against Abdille is that "while on board an aircraft in flight within the territory of New Zealand, she unlawfully, by force, attempted to seize control of the aircraft".
- with NZPA
- © Fairfax NZ News
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