Co-Pilot Arrested After Hijacking Ethiopian Plane

An Ethiopian Airlines co-pilot is in Swiss custody after hijacking a plane bound for Rome.

Co-Pilot Arrested After Hijacking Ethiopian Plane
Euronews / Alain Fracheboud

An Ethiopian Airlines co-pilot is in custody after hijacking a plane. 

“The plane was en route to Rome. Authorities say the man waited until the pilot went to the bathroom to lock the cockpit door and grab control of the plane after landing in Geneva.” (Via Fox News

Police say that after landing, the suspected hijacker climbed out a window and surrendered to Swiss police. None of the 202 passengers and crew members aboard were harmed, according to the airline. (Via ITV

Police say the suspected hijacker is Ethiopian and in his early 30s. He apparently sought asylum in Geneva for fear of being prosecuted in Ethiopia. He reportedly told authorities he felt threatened in his home country. RT obtained a recording of his conversation with air traffic control. (Via Euronews

"We need asylum or assurance that we'll not be transferred... Thank you very much."

"We are waiting on that information." (Via RT

His decision to seek asylum in Switzerland perhaps makes sense. According to MSNBC, the country granted more than 3,000 people asylum in 2013 alone. 

As for Ethopia, a correspondent for the BBC explains the country has a questionable track record when it comes to asylum seekers. “Human Rights Watch has accused the Ethiopian government of at times forcibly returning asylum seekers with the help of neighbouring states. The Ethiopian government denies these claims.”

This is the second attempted hijacking this month. A Ukrainian man tried hijacking a Turkish passenger plane to Sochi at the start of the Winter Olympics. The pilot instead flew the plane to Istanbul where the hijacker was arrested. (Via CNN

An investigation into the hijacking is underway. Swiss authorities plan to press charges and say the co-pilot could face up to 20 years in prison.