By Abreha Belay,
THE Swiss government has rejected Ethiopia’s request to extradite a co-pilot who had hijacked an airliner last February.
Hailemedhin Abera, 30, hijacked an Ethiopian Airlines passenger plane that was on an Addis Ababa-Rome route and landed it safely in the Swiss city, thereby requesting a political asylum. The 202 passengers and crew on board the Boeing 767 plane were not harmed.
The VOA quoted a spokesperson of the Swiss Federal Justice Ministry as saying that criminal proceedings were underway for charges of hijacking a plane. For this reason, the spokesperson said, it was decided not to extradite the person to Ethiopia.
Ethiopia and Switzerland don’t have an extradition treaty.
The verdict comes as a victory for the pro-democracy Ethiopian Diaspora which had held several solidarity demonstrations and urged the Swiss government not to extradite the co-pilot to Addis Ababa, where the ruling party is often accused by reputable organizations such as Human Rights Watch of gross human rights violations.
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