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Ethiopian Airlines co-pilot hijacks aircraft to seek asylum in Switzerland

Feb 17 2014, 10:38am CST | by , in News | Other Stuff

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Ethiopian Airlines co-pilot hijacks aircraft to seek asylum in Switzerland

Hijacker could be extradited

The co-pilot of an Ethiopian Airlines flight hijacked his aircraft to try to seek asylum in Switzerland on Monday. The co-pilot is said to be Hailemedhin Abera Tegegn. The 31-year-old man reportedly took over the aircraft when the pilot left the cockpit to use the restroom reports Reuters.

The co-pilot flew the aircraft to Switzerland and after landing the aircraft, he reportedly exited the cockpit through a window without harming any crew or passengers reports Reuters. Tegegn wasn't carrying a weapon.

"Just after landing, the co-pilot came out of the cockpit and ran to the police and said, 'I'm the hijacker.' He said he is not safe in his own country and wants asylum," Grangean said.

The Ethiopia government has been accused of torturing political detainees, the co-pilot reportedly said it was too dangerous to be in his country. The pilots are considered state employees since the airline is run by the state. The co-pilot reportedly worked for the airline for five years and has no criminal record.

"So far it was known that he was medically sane, until otherwise he is proven through the investigation which is going on right now," Redwan Hussein, spokesman for the Horn of Africa's government, told a news conference.

Ethiopia could ask for the pilot to be extradited. Adding to the strange hijacking is the fact that pilots have visas to travel freely to Europe. Hijacking his own aircraft to make a run "makes no sense" according to officials. The penalty for hijacking in Ethiopia is sever and carries up to 20 years in prison.

Stranger still, the co-pilot entered the code into the aircraft computers for hijacking himself. The aircraft was reportedly over Italy at the time and two fighter jets were scrambled to follow it. The copilot gave up as soon as he exited the aircraft.

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