Geneva, Switzerland (4E) – A co-pilot of a Rome-bound Ethiopian airliner hijacked the plane on Monday and flew to Switzerland, where he wanted to get a political asylum.
The hijacker surrendered to police after landing the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767-300 at the Geneva International Airport. None of the 202 passengers and crew aboard Flight 702 was harmed, though a passenger claimed the hijacker threatened to crash the plane if the pilot tries to get back to the cockpit.
The plane took off from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia around 12:30 a.m. Monday and was to arrive in Rome at 4:40 a.m. The co-pilot, whose name remains unknown, locked the cockpit door after the pilot went to the restroom and took control of the aircraft, according got Swiss police spokesman Jean-Philippe Brandt. He then diverted the plane to Geneva.
Before landing, the hijacker asked the control tower for permission to land and for asylum. Upon landing, he got off the plane via the cockpit window using a rope and surrendered to police.
The Geneva airport was temporarily shut down during the hijacking incident.
It was the second hijacking of an Ethiopian airliner. In 1996, a similar airliner was hijacked and the hijacker seeking political asylum in Australia flew towards the country. The plane, however, ran out of fuel and crashed into the Indian Ocean killing 125 people aboard.