Monday, February 17, 2014

Co-pilot hijacked the plane when the pilot went to the bathroom.

Swiss police have arrested the co-pilot of an Ethiopian Airlines flight after he allegedly hijacked the plane and forced it to land in Geneva on Monday.Geneva airport spokesman Bertrand Staempfli said the co-pilot had explained how he had seized his chance when the pilot went to the bathroom. "He said he felt threatened in his country and wants to seek asylum in Switzerland." The man, born in 1983 and an Ethiopian citizen, had contacted Geneva airport and said "he needed to land to fill the tank. After that he announced the hijacking," Staempfli said. "At 6.02 am, the plane landed safely." The co-pilot left the plane by scaling down a rope he had thrown out of the cockpit window. "He didn’t have a weapon with him," he said, adding that the hijacker would go before a judge later on Monday. Technically, he could be charged with "hostage-taking" and could face up to 20 years in prison, Staempfli said. The flight from Addis Ababa to Rome was hijacked over Africa and landed at Geneva airport about 4pm Sydney time. The airport was closed after the flight landed.  Police spokesman Jean-Philippe Brandt told AP that "the situation is under control" and nobody on the flight was injured. The plane was parked at a far end of a runway crowded with police and other emergency vehicles on Monday morning, Swiss time, with passengers filing out with their arms up in the air before getting onto waiting buses, according to an AFP reporter at the scene. The ATS news agency said the flight was carrying about 200 people and was hijacked as it flew over Sudan. Ethiopia said it was investigating who hijacked the Boeing 767. ‘‘Our ambassador there [in Geneva] is trying to search information from our passengers," Information Minister Redwan Hussein said.
All flights to and from the Geneva airport early Monday were either diverted or cancelled. The airport was gradually reopening, with landings starting up again at 8am (6pm Sydney time) and takeoffs scheduled to begin at 8.45am, according to a spokesman. Online flight watchers reported picking up a "Squawk 7500" hijack radio code coming from Ethiopian Airlines flight ET702 about 3.30pm, Sydney time. The Boeing 767's bizarre flight pattern was plotted live online on The site showed the plane making multiple circles around the airport before finally landing.
Cairo airport officials said the pilot of the plane informed the control tower at Abu Simbel in southern Egypt that his plane had been hijacked. The pilot did not ask to land in Egypt and the plane headed for Libyan airspace, they said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorised to brief the media. 
Source ( The Sydney Morning Herald  With AP, AFP)


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