Lawyer: Ex-MAS steward could languish in French jail for 10 years without trial

KUALA LUMPUR - A former Malaysia Airlines steward, who was detained in Paris after he allegedly molested a passenger aboard a flight, can be held in custody for up to 10 years without trial under French law.

Lawyer Shailender Bhar, who was engaged by the suspect's family, said he had learnt that the average detention period in France was four years.

The family of the 54-year-old suspect has appealed to the Government to bring him back to Malaysia.

The suspect's elder daughter, who only wished to be known as Syaza, 24, said her father looked weak when she visited him in the lock-up last month.

"It has been more than three months now. He has lost about 20kg and was emotionally unstable because he could not communicate with anyone due to the language barrier," she said.

She also said her father was unable to adapt to French prison food.

It was reported that the suspect was detained on Aug 7 after a police report was lodged against him for sexually assaulting a 26-year-old Australian passenger.

The incident allegedly took place on board the MH20 flight from Kuala Lumpur to Paris on Aug 4, after the passenger had expressed nervousness about flying.

The suspect then allegedly sat next to her and gave her a massage under the pretext of comforting her before the incident took place.

MAS later confirmed that it had dismissed the stewart, who had served at the national carrier for 32 years.

The National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (Nufam) has filed an appeal over his termination and referred the matter to the Industrial Relations Department.