A BRITISH former child chess prodigy who told his friends he was a Taliban and going to blow up a holiday plane has been cleared of any wrongdoing.
University student Aditya Verma, 20, admitted saying to his pals: “On my way to blow up the plane. I’m a member of the Taliban.” at his one-day trial in Madrid on Monday.
University student Aditya Verma, 20, has been cleared of any wrongdoing in a Madrid court this weekSolarpix
SolarpixThe former British chess prodigy admitted to joking to his friends in a private chat that he was going to blow up their plane to Majorca in July 2022[/caption]
SolarpixIndian-born Additya was arrested immediately after his flight landed in the Spanish island[/caption]
But he insisted he was joking with them in a private Snapchat group and had “no intention” of mobilising the two Spanish fighter jets sent to escort the packed easyJet plane.
The aircraft was also full of 140 other holidaymakers as it was flanked by the jets ahead of its descent in Menorca in July 2022.
Police and firefighters were also on the ground as a result of the terrorism scare.
Aditya sent the message in a group he shared with six friends alongside a photo of him in sunglasses and a hat.
The Spanish response was a reaction to an alert put out by the British authorities after they picked up on Aditya’s message sent while he was still at Gatwick Airport before boarding.
Indian-born Aditya, who was 18 at the tim,e of the arrest, had flown to the island on July 3, 2022, for a post A-Level exam holiday.
He ended up being charged with a public order offence.
Spanish prosecutors said on Monday they wanted him to pay €94,782 (£81,251) for the cost of scrambling a Eurofighter military jet and a fine of €22,500 (£19,288) if he was found guilty.
But judge Jose Manuel Fernandez-Prieto said today his actions hadn’t constituted a crime after returning his verdict just three days after the end of the quick trial at the centralised Audiencia Nacional court.
He said of the actions of the British youngster: “No intention to provoke the mobilisation of a military plane, or any police or other emergency service is apparent.
He added: “It cannot be ignored that the message and photograph with it were not sent to any official organisation, nor were they publicised in any way that would inevitably lead to the corresponding mobilisation of the pertinent police, assistance or rescue services.
“On the contrary they were shared in a strictly private environment, between the accused and the friends he was flying with to which only they had access.
“The accused could not even remotely assume (as he expressly stated at the trial), that the joke he played on his friends could be intercepted or detected by the British services, nor by third parties outside of his friends who received the message.”
British security services are thought to have picked up the message via Gatwick Airport’s public WiFi service, although there was no confirmation at the trial.
Aditya admitted one of his friends could have been using the airport WiFi.
A pal who gave evidence on his behalf denied a prosecutor’s suggestion one of them could have shared the ‘Taliban bomb joke’ with others outside of their Snapchat group and it might have been picked up that way.
At the time of his arrest he had just finished at St Olave’s Grammar School in Orpington, Kent.
He is now studying economics at Bath University.
Aditya has represented England at several international chess tournaments and once met legendary player Gary Kasparov.Leave a comment