City aircraft alert prompts security check

David McHugh
Tuesday 07 January 2003 01:00
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Officials urged a security review for small airports yesterday after a man stole a plane and threatened to crash it into Frankfurt's financial centre.

The man circled the city's skyscrapers for two hours on Sunday before landing at Frankfurt's international airport. He had stolen the plane from its pilot at gunpoint from Babenhausen airstrip near Frankfurt.

German media identified the man as Franz-Stephan Strambach, a 31-year-old who was described as mentally disturbed. He made a partial confession to investigators yesterday. But his questioning was interrupted after several hours when his lawyer said Mr Strambach was exhausted, a spokesman for Frankfurt prosecutors said.

A state court judge in Frankfurt ordered that he be transferred to a mental institution pending a decision by authorities on whether he is fit to be charged. German media reported that Mr Strambach lived with his mother in Darmstadt, 25 miles south of Frankfurt.

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