Ethiopian court jails pilot for 19 years for hijacking plane

AP News
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Posted: Mar 20, 2015 3:53 PM

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — An Ethiopian court on Friday sentenced co-pilot Hailemedhin Abera to 19 years in prison for hijacking a plane bound for Rome and taking it to Geneva.

The court said Monday it had issued a public notice for the 31-year-old to appear in court but he failed to show up. Hailemedhin is in Switzerland, his brother Endalamaw Abera said.

At the time of the hijacking, Hailemedhin's uncle Alemu Asmamaw told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that the pilot was in emotional distress following the sudden death of another uncle.

On Feb 14 last year Hailemedhin, who had worked for Ethiopian Airlines for five years, locked the pilot of a Rome-bound flight out of the cockpit and then as co-pilot diverted the plane to Geneva, where he used a rope to lower himself out of a window and then asked for political asylum.

The jetliner carrying 200 passengers and crew took off from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.