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Plane hijacked by co-pilot

Police officers help passengers disembark from the hijacked Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 702 at Cointrin Airport in Geneva February 17, 2014.
Police officers help passengers disembark from the hijacked Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 702 at Cointrin Airport in Geneva February 17, 2014.
Photo by: Denis Balibouse / Reuter

A plane was hijacked by the co-pilot early Monday morning reported CNN on February 17, 2014.

Ethiopian Flight 702 had left Addis Abada in Ethiopia and was enroute to Rome when the co-pilot commandeered the plane.

After waiting for the pilot to go to the restroom, the co-pilo, Hailemedhin Abera Tegegn, 31, locked the cockpit door, told Italian air controllers the plane needed fuel, activated a signal indicating that the plane was being hijacked, and directed the plane towards Geneva, Switzerland.

Eric Grandjean, spokesman for the Ethiopian police, stated that Italian fighter jets were dispatched to escort the plane out of Italian airspace.

Hailemedhin Abera Tegegn demanded asylm while circling Geneva.

The plane landed at the Geneva International Airport around 6:00 a.m. After landing on the taxiway the co-pilot turned off the engines, opened the cockpit window and used a rope to lower himself onto the tarmac. He identified himself as the hijacker, stated he was in danger in Ethiopia and requested asylum.

"Just after landing, the co-pilot came out of the cockpit and ran to the police and said, 'I'm the hijacker.' He said he is not safe in his own country and wants asylum," Grangean said.

The co-pilot was arrested.

Redwan Hussein, spokesman for the Ethiopian government, issued a statement about the incident.

“So far it was known that he was medically sane, until otherwise he is proven through the investigation which is going on right now.”

Hussein stated he wasn’t sure why Tegegn would hijack the plane when Ethiopian Airlines pilots can travel freely within Europe and “that the anti-hijacking law in any country is severe.”

No one was injured during the hijacking. Nor were passengers threatened or in danger.

Geneva International Airport was immediately shut down during the incident and reopened later Monday morning.