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200 on board hijacked Ethiopian flight are safe

Ethiopian copilot, 31, asks for asylum in Switzerland

17 February, 12:39
200 on board hijacked Ethiopian flight are safe (see previous).

(ANSA) - Geneva, February 17 - More than 200 people aboard an Ethiopian Airlines airplane were safe after their flight was hijacked and intercepted by a pair of Italian fighter jets in Sicilian air space early Monday.

The hijacker has been identified as the 31-year-old Ethiopian copilot, who was unarmed and showed no sign of hostility.

Ethiopian Airlines confirmed that flight ET-702 leaving Addis Ababa for Rome was "forced to proceed toward the Geneva airport".

Italian fighter jets escorted the plane to the custody of French military jets. The Ethiopian plane landed in the Geneva airport at 6am.

An Italian passenger said the hijacker locked the pilot out of the cockpit after leaving the controls to go to the bathroom.

The man has asked for political asylum in Switzerland, said Geneva airport spokesperson Eric Grandjean.