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Switzerland refuses to extradite Haile Medhin Abera, the Ethiopian Co-Pilot who hijacked his plane

His asylum application will normally be assessed at the end of the prison sentence.

For Haile Medhin Abera (HA) , this is good news. The Ethiopian co-pilot who hijacked his aircraft and landed in Geneva last February will not be returned to his country. Ethiopian media reports that Switzerland has rejected the extradition request from Ethiopia. Information that confirms Folco Galli, Head of Communications, Federal Office of Justice (FOJ). “We have informed the Ethiopian authorities that criminal proceedings are currently open in Switzerland against the co-pilot of Ethiopian Airlines for the same facts mentioned in the extradition request. Therefore, the FOJ refused the extradition request by the Ethiopian authorities”

What fate after the trial?

If the hijacker of 30 years is in the hands of the Public Prosecutor of the Confederation, the man will be judged in Switzerland and serve his sentence there. And after? The result could be rather surprising. After hijacking his own plane, HA had landed in Geneva. He descended from the cockpit using a rope and announced immediately: “I request political asylum in Switzerland.” In the point, he is unlikely to get it. But yet he could well stay in Switzerland. “You can imagine that he probably already filed an application for asylum with the Federal Office for Migration,” notes Michael Pfeiffer, lawyer for the Swiss Organization for Aid to Refugees (SFH).  The application will normally be assessed at the end of the prison sentence.

Without prejudging the future, that’s what could happen next. For the specialist, it is likely that the application be will rejected because of section 8 of the Asylum Act, which states that it is not granted “to a foreigner that seems unworthy because of wrongdoing. ” Hijacking a Boeing with around 200 passengers on board is clearly wrong …

No asylum, but not expelled either. In accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights, Switzerland can not return if the copilot risks abuses in his country. And the Ethiopian government currently offers few guarantees of respect for human rights. Above all, the authorities publicly accused the copilot of “treason” and seems to want to sue even in in absentiaThe Ethiopian Public Ministry recently charged him with “hijacking of an aircraft in flight” and “endangering an aircraft in flight.” which sends him to prison for decades. If the situation does not change, the co-pilot  could therefore not be extradited. He then may get provisional admission and refugee status.

Translated and edited from the original article in French on the Swiss Newspaper ‘Le Temps‘ . Any discrepancies or differences created in the English translation are not binding and have no legal effect. 

Also read Ethiopian Airlines hijacker to be tried in Switzerland by SwissInfo