A South Korean court approved Tuesday the arrest of ex-Korean Air Lines executive Cho Hyun-ah, who delayed a flight over a dispute about a bag of macadamia nuts earlier this month. The Seoul Western District Court agreed that authorities were legally warranted in arresting Cho, according to the Associated Press.
Prosecutors have yet to press criminal charges against Cho, but South Korean law allows authorities to arrest a suspect for up to six months if there is a concern that they could flee or destroy evidence. The court has said that Cho could face several charges, including inflight violence and changing a flight route, a violation of aviation law, reported the AP.
A passenger claimed that Cho, who is the eldest daughter of the airline’s chairman, Cho Yang-ho, threatened and assaulted a Korean Air Lines flight crew member after she was served macadamia nuts in a bag rather than a plate. The former executive’s angry outburst, which has since been dubbed "nut rage" in media reports, forced the flight to return to its gate in New York and resulted in it being 11 minutes late to Seoul’s Incheon International Airport.
The Dec. 5 incident provoked a national uproar in Korea amid widespread frustration over family-controlled businesses. "This is just one incident that actually grabbed some of the public's attention. But I hear almost every month, similar incidents that happens within the corporations that does not actually end up in this kind of big incident," said Lee Ji-Soo, a representative from South Korea's law and business research centre, to Al Jazeera.
Four South Korean officials are also under fire for improper conduct during the investigation into the incident, said the country’s transport ministry on Monday, according to the AP. The officials are facing punishments over allegations that they may have leaked information and committed other inappropriate violations during the course of the ministry’s inquiry.