By KIRSTEN GRIESHABER
An intruder managed to break into German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s jet at Cologne Airport for several hours last month, playing around with buttons in the cockpit, activating the escape slide and using fire extinguishers before police put an end to his escapades.
The incident took place the evening of July 25 and the case is still being investigated, a spokesman for Germany’s air force said Tuesday. Merkel was not in Cologne during the incident, he said.
The intruder, a 24-year-old bodybuilder whose name was only given as Volkan T., somehow pressed an alarm button in the cockpit, which is how police were alerted to the incident. When he refused to leave the plane, police entered with dogs and he was bitten twice in the leg before they could overpower him, the German news agency dpa reported.
German media, citing a leaked report from the Federal Police, said he had taken ecstasy pills.
The Airbus A319 is one of two VIP planes that are usually on call for Germany’s top lawmakers at the military section of Cologne’s airport. In contrast to President Barack Obama’s Air Force No. One, the two Airbus planes are not only reserved for Merkel but can also be used be the country’s president, Joachim Gauck, or high-ranking ministers.
Bremer would not comment on German media reports that Volkan T. was dancing around on the plane in his underpants when he was caught by police.
The intruder had no previous history with the police, he added.
The air force official said there was no way the intruder could have started the plane, since it “was on power-off mode.” Air force personnel made a complete technical check of the plane, changed the emergency exit door and held a test flight before it was put back on active duty on Aug. 13.