In this Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013 photo, police tape is shown crossing a street where Montreal police have blocked off a residential area near Trudeau International Airport after the discovery of a potential explosive device found in the carry-on luggage of a 71-year-old man who was headed to Los Angeles. The man has been detained. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Benjamin Shingler)
MONTREAL — A 71-year-old man who was booked on a flight to Los Angeles faces three charges after parts of a potential explosive device were found in his carry-on luggage at Montreal’s Trudeau International Airport.
Antony Piazza, a Canadian of Iranian origin, was charged today with mischief, endangering the safety of an aircraft or airport and being in illegal possession of an explosive substance.
Piazza, who is originally from Tehran changed his name in the 1980s from Houshang Nazemi, said the man’s lawyer, Louis Morena.
He previously served a 10-year-sentence under that name in Canadian prison for smuggling drugs into the country.
Morena told reporters Piazza maintains his innocence in the airport case and that the carry-on bag didn’t belong to him.
Police found wires, bullets, and a powder inside the bag, Morena said.
Prosecutor Alexandre Gauthier said Piazza could face up to 10 years in prison and that the investigation is ongoing.
Piazza, a stocky man with a clean-shaven face, wore a black suit and dress shirt in his brief appearance at the Montreal courthouse.
He addressed the court in English.
Piazza is set to appear again Tuesday for a bail hearing.
Police said they searched the suspect’s apartment and car in a residential area near the airport Sunday evening after the package was spotted earlier in the day.
They seized some documents but Ian Lafreniere, a Montreal police spokesman, said they have found “nothing obvious” so far.
Members of the city’s SWAT team were called in and authorities set up a security perimeter spanning several city blocks during the search. About 20 residents were temporarily evacuated from their homes.
The package was spotted at a security checkpoint in the U.S. departures area early Sunday morning. The items in the package were not explosives.
“It was different parts of a potential device. To make that a little clearer, let’s say you are trying to do a bomb inside the luggage, but one thing was missing: no explosives, but it was different parts of a dangerous device,” Lafreniere said.
The suspect, who had a plane ticket for Los Angeles, was detained. Everyone on the flight was questioned, and luggage was searched as a precaution, Lafreniere said.
Flights destined for the United States were delayed for several hours on Sunday morning but an airport spokeswoman said flight operations had resumed by early in the afternoon.