Ethiopia co-pilot hijacker seeks Swiss asylum

2014-02-17 13:16
Gallery  |  click on thumbnail to view larger image

Ethiopian airlines plane hijacked

An Ethiopian airlines flight en route to Rome has been forced to land in Geneva after reports of a hijacking. See all the latest pictures here.

Geneva - The co-pilot of an Ethiopian Airlines plane flying from Addis Ababa to Rome hijacked the aircraft on Monday and forced it to land in Geneva where he wanted to seek asylum, police said.

The hijacker was arrested after he scaled out of the cockpit window on a rope, Geneva police spokesperson Eric Grandjean said, adding that the situation was now under control.

The co-pilot said he had seized his chance to take over the plane when the pilot went to the bathroom, Grandjean told AFP.

The man, identified as an Ethiopian citizen born in 1983, told police he had seized the aircraft because "he felt threatened in his country and wants to seek asylum in Switzerland," he added.

A total of 202 passengers and crew members were on board the Boeing 767 as the drama played out but Grandjean said no-one was injured.

Asylum chances

The hijacker contacted Geneva Airport and said "he had a problem with his plane and needed to land to fill the tank with kerosene... and that he had technical problems with the engine," Grandjean said.

He then said he had hijacked the plane, Grandjean said, adding that Geneva airport had allowed him to land "for safety reasons" and that the plane had been escorted by fighter jets from Italian airspace.

Flight ET-702 eventually landed safely in Geneva at 06:02 (0502 GMT).

"He parked the plane on the taxiway, he cut the engines then opened the cockpit window, threw out a rope and used it to descend to the tarmac," Grandjean said.

"He ran towards the police and immediately identified himself as the co-pilot and hijacker."

The runway was crowded with police and other emergency vehicles as passengers filed out of the plane with their arms up in the air or on their heads before boarding waiting buses.

"The passengers are safe and sound," Ethiopian Airlines said in a statement in Addis Ababa.

It was the first time since 1987 that a hijacked plane has been forced to land in Geneva, according to police, and the first time in Swiss history that a co-pilot had hijacked an aircraft.

Ethiopian Information Minister Redwan Hussein said officials were investigating the incident and trying to get information from passengers.

Geneva's chief prosecutor Olivier Jornot cast doubt on the co-pilot's chances of gaining asylum in Switzerland after the incident.

"Technically there is no connection between asylum and the fact he committed a crime to come here. But I think his chances are not very high," he told reporters.

All flights to and from Geneva were either diverted or cancelled early on Monday as the drama was unfolding but the airport was now gradually reopening, a spokesperson said.

Read more on:    switzerland  |  aviation
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

The craziest deaths of 2014
How to make this a sensual, sexy summer!
This is what South Africans Googled in 2014!
This hilarious song is your new holiday anthem

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be emotionally defensive or reserved today. You need to step up today as there may be extra responsibilities to deal with....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.