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Ethiopian plane hijacked to Geneva by co-pilot

Co-Pilot Arrested After Hijacking Ethopian Plane

GENEVA (AP) - An Ethiopian Airlines co-pilot hijacked a plane bound for Rome on Monday and flew it to Geneva, where he wanted to seek asylum, officials said.

The Boeing 767-300 plane with 202 passengers and crew aboard had taken off from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, and landed in the Swiss city at about 6 a.m. (0500 GMT). Officials said no one on the flight was injured.

Geneva airport chief executive Robert Deillon told reporters that the co-pilot, an Ethiopian man born in 1983, took control of the plane when the pilot ventured outside the cockpit.

"The pilot went to the toilet and he (the co-pilot) locked himself in the cockpit," Deillon said.

The man "wanted asylum in Switzerland," he said. "That's the motivation of the hijacking."

The hijacking began over Italy, Switzerland's southern neighbor, and two Italian fighter jets were scrambled to accompany the plane, according to Deillon.

Passengers on the plane were unaware it had been hijacked, officials said.

A few minutes after landing in Geneva, the co-pilot exited the cockpit using a rope, "then he went to the police forces who were on the ground close to the aircraft," Geneva police spokesman Eric Grandjean said. "He announced that he was himself the hijacker."

It was not immediately clear why the co-pilot, whose name wasn't released, wanted asylum.

Police escorted passengers one by one, their hands over their heads, from the taxied plane to waiting vehicles.

Geneva prosecutor Olivier Jornot said Swiss federal authorities were investigating the hijacking and would press charges that could carry a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

Geneva airport was initially closed to other flights, but operations resumed around two hours after the hijacked plane landed. "We hope everything will return to normal in the afternoon," Deillon said.

Ethiopian Airlines is owned by Ethiopia's government, which has faced persistent criticism over its rights record and alleged intolerance for political dissent.

Human Rights Watch says Ethiopia's human rights record "has sharply deteriorated" over the years. The rights group says authorities severely restrict basic rights of freedom of expression, association, and assembly.

The government has been accused of targeting journalists, opposition members, as well as the country's minority Muslim community.


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jth3312381 February 17 2014 at 5:50 AM

This pilot should go to prison anyhow! No person has the right to hijack an airplane in any manner. All persons going to take an airplane, will have to aware of pilots?

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1 reply
Elizabeth jth3312381 February 17 2014 at 6:04 AM

He probably will, and may find a Swiss prison much nicer that living in Ethiopia.

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2 replies
Elizabeth Elizabeth February 17 2014 at 6:55 AM

than, not that. Fingers are still asleep.

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kingofswords72 Elizabeth February 17 2014 at 7:42 AM

Ethiopia is actually a very nice place to live, not sure about Ethiopian prisons though. I imagine their prisons are like most other African prisons. Ethiopia is mostly a Christian nation and they don't like anyone messing with the system they have in place. I'm guessing the pilot was a Muslim and he wanted out before they arrested him for being a dissident.

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jpfranny13 February 17 2014 at 7:54 AM

seriously he had nothing better to do

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harrymorgan124 February 17 2014 at 2:41 PM

That was a dumb move by this pilot.

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DOLLY February 17 2014 at 8:06 AM

Why didn't the pilot have a key to get back into the cockpit? OMG do we need to have a GPS that is visual to the passengers? Are we screening these pilots, co-pilots enough? There has to be a safer way to make sure that hi jacking, is no longer an option.

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2 replies
jijjhnsn DOLLY February 17 2014 at 8:11 AM

I guess for security reason door can only be locked from the inside like your home bathroom.

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mustaller DOLLY February 17 2014 at 8:36 AM

Alot happens between the inital screening process, and the momment when a person makes a decission for the rest of their life.

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1 reply
mustaller mustaller June 03 2014 at 9:32 AM

A flaw, one of many with our species, the ability to make a last minute decision, may it right or wrong, but that of a "last minute decision", and that it is ours to make. Not intelligent enough to know everything, but I am questioning why, a pilot of all people, deems it necessary to threaten in the means of safety and human error, the lives of innocents, taking over an aircraft, rather then walking off one airplane and onto another to political freedom.

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tpm February 17 2014 at 11:13 AM

This could well have been a desperate life or death decision. My boyfriend (he's Nigerian living in diaspora) had to flee the west African country he was then living in when government forces raided his offices under suspicion certain information was to be published (without that regime's permission) in the magazine he and his partners founded. The things we Americans who have our freedoms take for granted is startling. Never forget to express gratitude to God for His daily mercies. Billions of people in this world suffer from things you cannot imagine every single day, including suppression and oppression.

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1 reply
simpljb tpm February 17 2014 at 12:06 PM

I think we have millions of dead soldiers around the world that fought real hard for somethin we take for granted and shouldn't , like free speech , its already our right to speak freely as it is to live freely - GOD should have nothing to do with it - its the right of every human being and should never be considered taking for granted

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mingthemercilessone February 17 2014 at 11:30 AM

If the co-pilot of the airplane admitted to being the hi-jacker, then WHY are innocent passengers taken off the plane with their hands over their heads?

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2 replies
b'hamster mingthemercilessone February 17 2014 at 11:56 AM


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simpljb mingthemercilessone February 17 2014 at 12:02 PM

first off , I was wondering if he climbed out a window , that would be a hell of a drop and he might have been killed doing that alone - what desperation . My guess is why the passengers were taken off the plane in that manner is because the authorities can't be too sure whos who , when a plane is Hi-jacked , sounds like just protocol to make sure everyone is who they say they are - my guess is that ethiopian aiirline facilities aren't so secure when boarding from ethiopia and ANYONE can become a terrorist if desired - but thats just a theory of mine

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1 reply
ddunlap555 simpljb February 17 2014 at 1:17 PM

Aircraft are equiped with escape ropes in the flight deck toclimb down to the ground.

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Billy Burke February 17 2014 at 8:13 AM

Ethiopian plane hijacked by co-pilot

The plane with 202 passengers and crew aboard had taken off from the Ethiopian capital and landed in Geneva. Luckily, no one was injured.

Motivation behind copilot's move

CNN story never says the reason for highjacking, they always pull this. The story never delivers what the headline states.

I don't know who's at fault either AOL Huff Post or CNN. but someone is dishonest, and they do it all the time.

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1 reply
Micheal Billy Burke February 17 2014 at 9:05 AM

But they *do* give the reason for the hijacking. The co-pilot who hijacked the plane wants assylum in Switzerland, a neutral country, for some reason that is not yet known. The headline states exactly what the story delivers - that the plane was hijacked by the co-pilot.

The curiosity is that he chose to take the plane to Geneva, when he could have attempted to claim assylum in Rome (at least that was still possible the last time I checked - I don't k eep myself constantly updated as to the state of Italian political assylum law).

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1 reply
slackwarerobert Micheal February 17 2014 at 10:58 AM

Pilot can't hijack his own plane. only yell alah ackbar and crash it.
If the other pilot wasn't so busy getting his wick polished by the stewardess, this wouldn't have happened.

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eddy017 February 17 2014 at 12:07 PM

nice to be in prison in a country like Switzerland ... prisoners have free board lodging free health etc better than living in Ethiopia.

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Marcia February 17 2014 at 8:21 AM

A sad story.

Just glad no one was hurt.

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simpljb February 17 2014 at 11:48 AM

20 years in prison in Geneva is better than what he'd have comin in Ethiopia - still , at least no one was hurt

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