Co-pilot hijacks Ethiopian Airlines plane to seek asylum in Switzerland

An Ethiopian co-pilot hijacked his own plane after locking the captain out of the cockpit and flew it to Geneva in an audacious attempt to seek asylum in Switzerland.

Hailemedehin Abera Tagegn waited until the captain went to the toilet and then tool the opportunity to seize control of the flight from Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, to Rome. After locking his superior out of the cockpit, he then landed in Geneva.

A few minutes after landing at the Swiss airport, Mr Tagegn exited the plane by scaling down a rope he had thrown out of the cockpit window and gave himself up to authorities. The 202 passengers on board, who were unaware the plane had been hijacked, were then evacuated from the craft and escorted to waiting vehicles with their hands over their heads.

The co-pilot said he seized his chance to take over flight ET-702 from Addis Ababa to Rome by locking himself in the cockpit when the pilot went to the bathroom, police spokesman Eric Grandjean told AFP.

Addis Ababa said the 31-year-old had been working for the airline for five years, and said he was “medically sane”.


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