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Monday, 23 September, 2002, 14:15 GMT 15:15 UK
German trucker jailed for bomb hoax
Channel tunnel entrance at Folkestone
The incident was investigated by 39 police officers
A German lorry driver who "jokingly" told a channel tunnel official he was carrying explosives has been jailed for 28 days.

Alexander Meusel, 31, from Annaberg in Germany, admitted wasting police time after making a "flippant" comment about the contents of his truck.

His remarks prompted a security alert at the tunnel entrance, Folkestone magistrates court heard.

Chairwoman of the bench Ann Page told Meusel he was being sent to prison to deter others from committing similar hoaxes.

'Bin Laden'

The incident began when Meusel's articulated lorry carrying recycled paper from South Wales to Germany was selected for a random X-Ray on Friday.

Meusel asked a member of staff what they were looking for, and when he replied he was searching for explosives, he told him he had TNT on board.

He later overheard a smattering of German with the words "Bin Laden" spoken as Meusel talked to a Belgian lorry driver.

Tunnel staff referred the matter to the police who discovered the lorry only contained paper.

Meusel was subsequently arrested under the terrorism act while 39 police officers spent eight hours investigating at a cost of more than 3,000.

'Grave mistake'

When interviewed Meusel admitted he had meant the remark as a joke rather than a serious bomb threat.

Defending, Mark Trafford described the incident as a "grave mistake".

He said the name Bin Laden arose because Meusel was complaining about how often he was stopped compared with lorry drivers travelling from further away.

Passing sentence, Ms Page told Meusel: "Recent tragic events and the well-publicised importance of heightened security procedures make this offence so serious that a deterrent sentence is required."


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16 Sep 02 | Business
26 Jun 02 | Politics
31 May 02 | Politics
31 May 02 | Politics
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