Ethiopian co-pilot hijacks own plane to seek asylum

2014-02-17 15:45

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Geneva – A co-pilot of Ethiopian Airlines hijacked his own airplane with more than 200 people on board and diverted it to Geneva to seek asylum in Switzerland, Swiss police said.

After flight number ET 702 landed at Geneva airport this morning instead of its planned destination at Rome’s Fiumicino airport, the 31-year-old man was arrested, leaving all passengers unharmed.

The suspect apparently used a brief absence of the main pilot to commit the hijacking, said Eric Grandjean, spokesperson of the Geneva police.

“When the captain went to the toilet, he locked himself in the cockpit,” he said.

The jet took off shortly after midnight from Addis Ababa. When the airplane left its destined course, the Italian air force scrambled fighter jets.

“The two Eurofighters ... intercepted an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767 flying from Addis Ababa to Fiumicino and diverted to Geneva by an air pirate who asked for asylum in Switzerland,” the air force said in a statement.

French air force jets escorted the aircraft across the Alps, it added.

Geneva airport was shut down and numerous flights to and from Geneva were cancelled. Shortly after landing, the co-pilot climbed out of the aircraft through a cockpit window and surrendered to police. He said he was not safe in Ethiopia and wanted asylum in Switzerland, according to Grandjean.

“This man’s chances [for asylum] are not very high,” said Pierre Maudet, the security councillor of the government of the canton of Geneva.

The prosecution office in Geneva said the co-pilot faced up to 20 years in prison for kidnapping and violating aviation security.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. 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
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


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 network.


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.