- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 14, 2006

LEESBURG, Va. — A Brazilian jujitsu fighter charged with trying to open the emergency door on a cross-country flight may undergo a mental health evaluation after making incoherent statements yesterday during a court appearance.

Carlos Alberto de Oliveira, 43, of Porto Alegre, Brazil, spoke erratically in Portuguese during a brief hearing in Loudoun General District Court. An interpreter was able to convey only some of Mr. de Oliveira’s comments, which included multiple references to ransom and money.

Several members of the Brazilian press, who heard the entirety of Mr. de Oliveira’s comments in Portuguese, agreed that his statements were largely nonsensical. He made his initial court appearance through a video hookup from the county jail, which is standard procedure at the courthouse.

He had been scheduled to appear in court Wednesday, but the hearing was postponed after authorities placed him in restraints and said he was being uncooperative.

Mr. de Oliveira is charged with interfering with an aircraft operation after passengers on a United Airlines flight Tuesday from Los Angeles to Washington Dulles International Airport subdued him.

Eyewitnesses said Mr. de Oliveira was acting strangely and throwing punches in the air for several minutes before reaching for the emergency door. A flight attendant yelled for help, and several passengers wrestled Mr. de Oliveira to the ground. An air marshal eventually took him into custody.

Public defender Lorie O’Donnell met briefly with Mr. de Oliveira after yesterday’s hearing and said she will ask a judge to order a mental evaluation. A hearing is scheduled for today.

“His reality and ours don’t seem to be meshing,” she said.

Authorities said Mr. de Oliveira competes in jujitsu competitions, and one of the passengers said he was wearing jujitsu patches and military-style clothing aboard the flight.

David Castelveter, a spokesman for the Air Transport Association, which represents most U.S. airlines, said it would be impossible to open an emergency door in midflight because of the differences in air pressure.

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