30 MARCH 2015


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Article from BTNews 30 MARCH 2015

Twenty years for pilot

An Ethiopian court has sentenced an Ethiopian Airlines pilot to 19 years and six months in prison for hijacking his own plane and diverting it to Geneva.  The interesting point is that if he just left the aircraft at its planned destination, Rome, he may well have applied for political asylum and got away with it, and with hardly any publicity.

The High Court in Addis Ababa issued its ruling on Hailemedhin Abera Tegegn in his absence.  He is has been granted political asylum  in Switzerland but could still face charges.

The 32-year-old was second-in-command on the 17 February 2014 flight to Rome.  According to Swiss police, he took control of the aircraft when the captain, an Italian, left the cockpit for a toilet break, then sent a coded signal announcing he had hijacked his own plane.

With the Boeing jet on the tarmac, an unarmed Hailemedhin scrambled down an emergency rope and surrendered to police without harming the 193 passengers, mostly Europeans, on board.

Swiss officials have said Hailemedhin asked for asylum, saying he did not feel safe in Ethiopia.

Ethiopian officials have noted that, as a pilot, Hailemedhin had a visa allowing him to travel freely to Europe.  www.ethiopianairlines.com

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