Slovak police apologize to Ireland for airplane security blunder | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 07.01.2010
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Slovak police apologize to Ireland for airplane security blunder

An unsuspecting airline passenger transported explosives into Dublin after Slovak police training went awry. Slovakia's border police chief has taken responsibilty for the gaff.

A German shepherd checking suitcases for explosive materials at an airport

Slovak airport security was shown to be lacking in the test

Slovak police responsible for a botched security test that sent explosives to Ireland in the luggage of an unsuspecting Danube Wings passenger have apologized for the fiasco.

The chief of the Slovak border police, Tibor Mako, stepped down on Thursday after apologizing for a blunder in security training that resulted in 90 grams (3.17 ounces) of explosives being transported in a passenger's baggage to Dublin.

The training exercise, which took place on Saturday, was intended to test the ability of bomb-sniffing dogs to find explosives at Poprad Airport in northeastern Slovakia.

Slovak border police inserted test packages containing small amounts of explosives into selected passengers' luggage without their knowledge.

Forgetful officer

Chief Mako said the package was successfully detected, but a police officer "forgot to remove the explosives after a dog found them during a security test."

"The explosives were attached by accident to the backpack. We are sorry that a good effort to test the security of civilian air transport turned out so badly," Mako told reporters.

Mako said the police officer failed to inform his superiors and only told Poprad Airport, which in turn sent Dublin Airport a telex message.

Unwitting traveller interrogated

However, Dublin Airport Authority said in a statement that it had "no contact whatsoever" from the Slovak side until Tuesday.

The 49-year-old Slovak backpack owner - who has worked in Ireland for three years and was returning from a Christmas holiday in Slovakia - was arrested under anti-terrorist laws Tuesday and interrogated. He was released without charge later that day.

The blunder took place a week and a half after a Nigerian man allegedly attempting to detonate explosives aboard a jetliner headed for Detroit, Michigan. Airport security staff in Nigeria and the Netherlands apparently failed to detect the man was carrying explosives.

Editor: Nancy Isenson

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