Co-pilot hijacks Ethiopian Airlines plane

February 17th, 2014 Print Print Email Email

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

The Boeing 767-300 plane with 202 passengers and crew aboard had taken off from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, and landed in the Swiss city at about 6 am (0500 GMT). Officials said no one on the flight was injured.

Geneva airport chief executive Robert Deillon told reporters that the co-pilot took control of the plane when the pilot ventured outside the cockpit.

“The pilot went to the toilet and he (the co-pilot) locked himself in the cockpit,” Mr. Deillon said.

The man “wanted asylum in Switzerland,” he said. “That’s the motivation of the hijacking.”

The hijacking began over Italy and two Italian fighter jets were scrambled to accompany the plane, according to Mr. Deillon.

Passengers on the plane were unaware it had been hijacked, officials said.

A few minutes after landing in Geneva, the co-pilot exited the cockpit using a rope, “then he went to the police forces who were on the ground close to the aircraft,” Geneva police spokesman Eric Grandjean said. “He announced that he was himself the hijacker.”

Police escorted passengers one by one, their hands over their heads, from the taxied plane to waiting vehicles.

Geneva prosecutor Olivier Jornot said Swiss federal authorities were investigating the hijacking and would press charges that could carry a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

Geneva airport was initially closed to other flights, but operations resumed around two hours after the hijacked plane landed. “We hope everything will return to normal in the afternoon,” Mr. Deillon said.

  1. UNITY
    | #1

    This is an example where desperate people do desperate things when they can’t take it anymore. First and foremost, thank God the pilot, the co-pilot and all the passengers didn’t get hurt. My heart goes out to the co-pilot and the rest of 85 million desperate Ethiopians that are being treated as second class citizens and inhumanly. Let us hope and pray that the government of Geneva do not handed the co-pilot back to the brutal regime the co-pilot running away from. Ethiopians must demand to be treated fairly, equally and demand Democracy.

  2. Ashenafe
    | #2


    He had commited terrorist act according to the Geneva convention laws. The international law does not encourage nor tolerate the safety of the passengers regardless if the justification. He is looking at minimum of 20 years prison term sentence for breaching the law and for hijacking.

  3. Abegaz
    | #3

    Inside information indicate that the copilot hijacked Ethiopian Boeing 767 because he was deeply offended by Alemneh Mekonnen who scolded the Amara peasants, that were forcefully removed from Benishangul, as unclean barefoot chauvinist people. He was agitated to do the jacking because government took no action to bring the person to justice nor he was suspended from the party for his offensive remarks.

  4. Ittu Aba Farda
    | #4

    I remember an Ethiopian who was a member of the imperial navy who was sent here to the USA for further education in the early 1970′s. His was given a diplomatic passport. That means he could visit any country without much visa requirement hassles. But after he finished his school he decided to stay and sought asylum in 1974. Pilots have similar passports. So why did this guy decide to hijack a civilian plane? In these days, where all of us are jittery about wanton terrorism, Thanks The Almighty that the Swiss remained cool-headed with this uninvited plane that came barreling into their airspace. There was no need for him to hijack the plane and in the process he has jeopardized the safety of the passengers. As I said before, violence should not be given the chance to be the instrument of any opposition, be it as an individual or a group. He could have abandoned his job after any flight and make a statement about the undesirable condition of human rights in Ethiopia. Now he has to deal with the possible ire of the Swiss. There are so many social media venues available to everyone these days to expose evil doers. I don’t see any excuse for such reckless action.

  5. Fekerenew gojjame
    | #5

    by Daniel Berhane
    Last & detailed update: ‪#‎Ethiopia‬ ‪#‎ET702‬ hijacker is described by friends as reclusive since childhood. His family are devotee Orthodox Christians and he, as well as his 7 bros/sis, are known for their good academic performance.

    Hailemedhin was born in an island on Tana Lake, then raised in Bahirdar city. His father is widely-known in the city as being engaged in usury(lending money with high interest), but he was not charged when the government cracked down on usury a few years ago in the city.

    My impression is that he doesn’t seem to have political motive, nor does it appear his actions were pre-meditated.

    (I will add more details later. I will take a break now)

  6. Dawi
    | #6

    The following is what the pilot’s sister said. It is sad but he may have had some health issue.

    ለዝርዝሩ እቺን ይጫኑ ::

    | #7

    We are still holding our ground and our principled stand
    and the views and demands we made so far. There is nothing
    new that came unexpected so far. Our struggle against woyane/tplf
    is on the right successfull course. This glitch is only what the
    woyanE/Tplf government has been extending and postponing the issue
    as if it goes away for a day or two or for a week or a year.
    But the real issue to be dealt with is still sitting there
    haunting the woyane and its rule. There is no detour or any other
    way to it. It is only ONE and ONE. HAND OVER POWER TO THE LEGITIMATE

  8. TPLF propaganda
    | #8

    #2 Ashole and Dawi,
    Here we go again, as usual, typical TPLF coming out of the woods to spread false rumors about the copilot and labeling individuals that challenges them as terrorists and mentally unstable. There is no doubt that, the TPLF regime going to threaten and put gun on the copilot’s family members and some of his friends to make false statements on Woyane TV against the copilot. If the copilot was mentally unstable, he wouldn’t have been hired to fly a plane, period!

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