Ethiopian Airlines plane hijacked to Geneva

Co-pilot hijacked Rome bound plane

An Ethiopian Airlines co-pilot hijacked a plane bound for Rome and flew it to Switzerland where he wanted to seek asylum, according to officials in Geneva.

The plane was en route from the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa and was due to land in Rome in the early hours of 17 February. However the aircraft was hijacked by the 30-year-old co-pilot who locked himself in the cockpit when the captain went to the bathroom.

The plane, which was carrying 200 passengers, was intercepted by Italian and French military jets before landing at Geneva International Airport at 06.00. The hijacker climbed out of the cockpit window on a rope and then gave himself up to the police. He was unarmed. He has asked asylum because he says that he is afraid of persecution in Ethiopia.

The co-pilot can be charged with taking hostages, for which there could be a 20-year prison sentence, but according to BBC reports is seems that the passengers were not even aware that the plane had been highjacked.

There was nobody injured in the incident although Geneva airport had to divert or cancel at least 11 flights and remained closed for around two hours.