Identity of co-pilot who hijacked ET-702 revealed
Addis Ababa, February 17 (WIC) – The Government Communications Affairs Office (GCAO) has revealed the identity of the co-pilot who hijacked Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 702.
Hailemedhin Abera Tegegn, a 31 years old Ethiopian, was the co-pilot behind the hijacking of the Rome bound flight which was forced to proceed to Geneva, Switzerland.
Hailemedhin locked himself in the cockpit when the captain, an Italian, went to the toilet, Redwan Hussien, head of GCAO, confirmed at a press conference today. Hailemedhin has been working at the Ethiopian Airlines for the past five years, he said.
Redwan said the plane was hijacked while approaching Khartoum airport where it was expected to make a stop.
“It is still not clear what led the co-pilot to hijack the plane,” Redwan told reporters adding that investigations are ongoing both in Switzerland and here in Addis Ababa.
Redwan downplayed reports that the co-pilot felt “threatened in his own country” while reportedly seeking asylum to the Swiss government.
“There is no logical explanation that one would risk a lengthy jail term because one felt uncomfortable in his own country,” Redwan said. “People in this country are free to express their discomfort.”
“He wouldn’t also need to hijack a plane if he wants to leave the country,” Redwan added.
“Staffs of Ethiopian Airlines have no problem of getting a VISA. The airline also gives free flights to its staffs. They can easily seek for a job [elsewhere]. So what social or economic reasons forced the co-pilot to hijack the plane is not clear,” Redwan said.
“As far as the Airline is concerned the co-pilot was mentally stable,” Redwan added.
However, Redwan said that the government has not heard from the Swiss government about an application for an asylum.
When asked whether he believes the co-pilot acted alone, Redwan said “that can only be confirmed once the ongoing investigations in Switzerland and here are concluded.”
Redwan suggested that Ethiopia would prefer to try the co-pilot in his country “depending on the outcome of the investigation and international laws”.
A total of 202 passengers and crews were onboard Flight ET-702, of whom some 140 are Italians, 10 Ethiopians, 11 Americans, five Nigerians and a host of other nationalities including Germany, Swiss, Congo, Ghana, Ukraine, England, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Africa and Kenya.
All passengers and crews are safe and Redwan has thanked Swiss authorities for the manner they handled the situation.
You can watch the full press conference from the ‘Current Events’ section on our website.
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