Ethiopian Plane Hijacker May Finally Get Asylum in Switzerland but Only after 30-Year Prison Term

The co-pilot of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET702 who had hijacked his plane and got it to Switzerland, in a bid to claim political asylum in the country, may finally have his wish granted, though not exactly as he might have planned.

The Swiss government recently denied the extradition request from Ethiopian authorities, stating that the 30 year old co-pilot Hailemedhin Abera Tegegn will have to face criminal charges in the Swiss court, and hence he will be kept in the country.

 “We have informed the Ethiopian authorities that criminal proceedings are currently open in Switzerland against the co-pilot. Therefore, the Federal Office of Justice refused the extradition request from the Ethiopians,” Folco Galli, Head of Communications, Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) told French news source Le Matin.

 The report further stated that Tegegn would have have to face trial first for hijacking, and may even get sentenced for a prison term of 30 years.

 “His asylum application will get processed only after 30 years and even then, there are chances that he may not be granted a permanent asylum. But still since he has cited that he fears for his life in Ethiopia, he will get to stay in Switzerland and will end up getting a refugee asylum,” Michael Pfeiffer, lawyer for the Swiss Organization for Aid to Refugees said.

 In February, after bringing the hijacked plane to the Geneva airport, Tegegn jumped out of the cockpit window and scrambled down an emergency rope. He then rushed to the police and surrendered.

 The Ethiopian government has claimed that the co-pilot was mentally unstable and unfit. However, the government has still dubbed him as a traitor and, in his absence, has filed for a law suit.

Filed in: Current Affairs / News