Hailemedhin Abera Tegegn: Who Is The Ethiopian Airlines Hijacker, And Why Was He Desperate For Asylum?

(International Business Times) ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – Airline passengers en route to Italy were rerouted to IBT TimesSwitzerland on Monday morning in a peaceful but puzzling hijacking episode, carried out by the plane’s own co-pilot.

Ethiopian Airlines flight ET702 was headed from Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis Ababa to Rome when the captain took a bathroom break. The first officer then locked himself inside the cockpit, reported the hijacking to airport transponders, and aimed his Boeing 767 toward Geneva. Reports indicate that the passengers were blissfully unaware of the situation until they touched down. They were heavily searched upon exiting the aircraft, after which the airline began efforts to get all 193 passengers – mostly Italian nationals – to their final destinations.

The unarmed hijacker’s own fate is unclear. Hailemedhin Abera Tegegn, 31, is an Ethiopian national who has worked for Ethiopian Airlines for five years. After landing safely around 6 a.m. local time, he disembarked from the aircraft through the cockpit window and handed himself over to the Swiss police, in whose custody he remains. The hijacker could face a prison sentence of up to 20 years on charges of hostage-taking. Read more on IBT…

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