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Congo national held with satellite phone, released on bail

Satellite phones have been banned in India after they were found to be used by Pakistani terrorists to contact their handlers during the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
March 17, 2018 2:58:54 am

A Congo national was held with a satellite phone at the Mumbai international airport on Sunday. He was granted bail on Wednesday after the police filed a chargesheet. The foreign national, Lucien Metela (43), of the Democratic Republic of Congo, arrived in Mumbai on Sunday morning. The police said that he was to take a connecting flight to Bhopal. Metela works as a project engineer with South Africa-based Ivanhoe Mines and was headed to Bhopal for a work meeting, the police said.

However, he was detained by Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel after a Thuraya satellite phone was found in his hand luggage. The CISF handed over Metela to the Sahar police station, which booked him under the Indian Wireless Telegraph Act. Metela, who was not arrested, was asked to attend the Metropolitan magistrate court in Andheri on Monday.

He was allowed to leave and proceed to Bhopal on Wednesday after the police filed its report against him. His lawyer, advocate Prabhakar Tripathi, said the court freed Metela after he paid a cash bond of Rs 25,000. Satellite phones have been banned in India after they were found to be used by Pakistani terrorists to contact their handlers during the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008. In 2012, the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security issued a circular to all airports in the country, directing authorities to detain passengers and seize the handsets.

Tripathi said that Metela was unaware that the use of satellite phones is banned in India. “He has to survey hilly areas outside Bhopal and so he brought the phone to use in case of emergency,” he said. Metala left for Bhopal after receiving bail, the police said. Before Metela, three foreign nationals were caught at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport last year in possession of satellite phones, including an Isreali man who was traveling to Goa after completing compulsory military service in his country, an Australian executive with a natural resources firm and and American businessman who was headed to Nepal for trekking.

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