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Ryanair hijacked flight investigation finds Belarus ‘illegal’


The United Nations agency responsible for investigating the hijacking of a Ryanair flight by Belarus last year announced on Tuesday that it had completed its examination, once again pointing the finger at the “illegal” actions carried out by Minsk.

On May 23, 2021, a Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania was forced to land in Minsk, with Belarusian authorities arresting dissident journalist Roman Protasevich and his partner Sofia Sapega who were on board.

“The ICAO Council yesterday concluded its discussions on the May 2021 incident in Belarusian airspace involving Ryanair flight FR4978, condemning the actions of the Belarusian government in committing an act of unlawful interference,” the statement said. International Civil Aviation Organization in a statement.

The investigation was extended in early January to establish certain “missing facts” and examine new information.

The Montreal-based ICAO studied the audio recordings of the Minsk air traffic controller who was monitoring the affected flight.

The agency said the bomb threat used as an excuse to hijack the plane was “deliberately false and jeopardized its safety”.

“The threat was communicated to the flight crew on the instructions of senior Belarusian government officials,” he concluded.

The statement added that the representative of the Council of Russia – a close ally of Minsk – “expressed the firm objection of his state to identifying Belarus as the source of the illegal interference that took place”.

He said the council, made up of 36 countries, had asked its president to convey the findings of the investigation to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

ICAO’s mission is to set the rules governing global civil air transport, but it does not have the power to impose sanctions.

In the event of a proven violation of international rules, its role is to provide support to any country wishing to issue convictions or apply sanctions, in accordance with the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation, the institution said.

Last month, Sapega asked Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko for a pardon after he was sentenced to six years in prison for “inciting social hatred” and “illegal collection of personal data”.

Protasevich is currently under house arrest pending trial.


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