ADVERTISEMENT

Ex-US soldier fined for trying to take gun on plane

February 24, 2022 GMT
Retired U.S. Army soldier Ronald Leon Johnson arrives to make his court appearance at the magistrates courts in Harare, Zimbabwe, Wednesday, Feb, 23, 2022. Johnson was arrested and has been in detention in Zimbabwe for a week charged with trying to board a plane with a loaded and unregistered pistol, state media reported Tuesday. Johnson was arrested Feb. 15 as he checked in at Robert Mugabe Airport in the capital, Harare, for a flight to the tourist town of Victoria Falls, The Herald newspaper reported. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
Retired U.S. Army soldier Ronald Leon Johnson arrives to make his court appearance at the magistrates courts in Harare, Zimbabwe, Wednesday, Feb, 23, 2022. Johnson was arrested and has been in detention in Zimbabwe for a week charged with trying to board a plane with a loaded and unregistered pistol, state media reported Tuesday. Johnson was arrested Feb. 15 as he checked in at Robert Mugabe Airport in the capital, Harare, for a flight to the tourist town of Victoria Falls, The Herald newspaper reported. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
Retired U.S. Army soldier Ronald Leon Johnson arrives to make his court appearance at the magistrates courts in Harare, Zimbabwe, Wednesday, Feb, 23, 2022. Johnson was arrested and has been in detention in Zimbabwe for a week charged with trying to board a plane with a loaded and unregistered pistol, state media reported Tuesday. Johnson was arrested Feb. 15 as he checked in at Robert Mugabe Airport in the capital, Harare, for a flight to the tourist town of Victoria Falls, The Herald newspaper reported. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
1 of 2
Retired U.S. Army soldier Ronald Leon Johnson arrives to make his court appearance at the magistrates courts in Harare, Zimbabwe, Wednesday, Feb, 23, 2022. Johnson was arrested and has been in detention in Zimbabwe for a week charged with trying to board a plane with a loaded and unregistered pistol, state media reported Tuesday. Johnson was arrested Feb. 15 as he checked in at Robert Mugabe Airport in the capital, Harare, for a flight to the tourist town of Victoria Falls, The Herald newspaper reported. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
1 of 2
Retired U.S. Army soldier Ronald Leon Johnson arrives to make his court appearance at the magistrates courts in Harare, Zimbabwe, Wednesday, Feb, 23, 2022. Johnson was arrested and has been in detention in Zimbabwe for a week charged with trying to board a plane with a loaded and unregistered pistol, state media reported Tuesday. Johnson was arrested Feb. 15 as he checked in at Robert Mugabe Airport in the capital, Harare, for a flight to the tourist town of Victoria Falls, The Herald newspaper reported. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — A retired U.S. Army soldier was fined $400 and given a suspended jail sentence Thursday for attempting to carry a gun and ammunition onto a plane in Zimbabwe.

Retired Sgt. Maj. Ronald Leon Johnson had been held in the renowned Chikurubi Prison for more than a week after he was arrested Feb. 15 at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe Airport in the capital, Harare.

He was checking in to a flight to the tourist town of Victoria Falls when airport security officials found a Glock 9 mm pistol and three magazines each with 15 rounds of ammunition in his suitcase, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors had asked for a 10-year prison term for Johnson, who pleaded guilty to charges of being in possession of an unlicensed gun and attempting to carry a gun and ammunition onto a plane without authorization.

The judge instead imposed the fine and a suspended 36-month jail term, and criticized prosecutors for “overemphasizing” Johnson’s military history to try and portray him as a potential terrorist.

ADVERTISEMENT

The judge also said Johnson should be allowed to return home. His home address was listed as being in Woodbridge, Virginia, in court documents. The gun and ammunition would be confiscated, the judge ruled.

Johnson retired from the Army in 2005 after 20 years of service, according to prosecutors.

He had been on a 30-day vacation visa in the southern African nation since Feb. 5 and had visited tourist sites and the rural home of his Zimbabwean fiancée.