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Airline ordered to pay for booting band

/ Source: The Associated Press

A British judge has ordered budget airline Ryanair to pay $7,800 to members of a calypso band who were ordered off a plane at gunpoint after another passenger said they were acting suspiciously.

Ryanair said it had not decided whether to appeal the ruling.

Five members of the London-based Caribbean Steel International band were aboard a flight waiting to fly from the island of Sardinia to London on Dec. 31, 2006, when a passenger alerted the crew of "suspicious" behavior.

The band members were sitting separately on the plane, even though they had been together in the departure lounge, the passenger reported.

The men were removed from the plane by Italian police with guns drawn, though they were later cleared by airport security. The pilot refused to let them back onboard, citing the "anxiety" of the other passengers.

District Judge Roger Southcombe ruled Tuesday that the men had been unreasonably removed from the plane. He awarded them $1,570 each in damages.

In the judgment, Southcombe said the damages awarded reflected the band members' "embarrassment at being the only black persons removed from the aircraft at gunpoint for no just reason, their inability to be with their families and friends on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day (and) the overnight stay in the cold in Liverpool."

The men were flown to Liverpool and spent the night of Jan. 1 outside the bus station after missing the last bus to London.