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The BBC's Stephen Cviic
"Some confusion about who the hostages were"
 real 56k

The BBC's Caroline Hawley
"They seem to have a vague political grievances with the Ethiopian government"
 real 28k

Sudanese Information Minister Ghazi Salah al-Deen
"We convinced the hijackers that what we were offering was the best offer"
 real 28k

Friday, 27 April, 2001, 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK
Sudan hijackers face trial
Hijacked Ethiopian Antonov
The plane was seized on an internal Ethiopian flight
The Sudanese authorities have detained the hijackers of an Ethiopian aircraft, saying they will stand trial under international law.

The route of the hijacked plane
Hijack route
The five hijackers, believed to be armed, were granted asylum after they released, unharmed, all passengers and crew on the plane which they forced to fly to Khartoum on Thursday.

Sudanese Information Minister Ghazi Salah al-Din said: "We convinced the hijackers that the best offer they can get is fair treatment according to international law and not to be turned over to Ethiopia. That's all we offered them."

All of them have been released... The hijackers will be tried according to international laws

Ghazi Salah al-Din
Sudanese information minister
But Ethiopian foreign affairs official Yemane Kidane said that Ethiopia will demand the extradition of the hijackers.

But he was not sure if an extradition treaty existed between the two countries.

The motive for the hijack remains unclear.

The plane, which belongs to the Ethiopian Air Force, landed in the Sudanese capital at 1820 local time (1520 GMT) after being seized on an internal flight.

Sudanese officials had face-to-face talks with one of the hijackers, following which the hostages, believed to number about 50 people, were released and the group surrendered.

Hijacker Bagemberman Tebegne
One of the hijackers orders hostages to be released
Mr Salah al-Din told the BBC that Khartoum had remained in close contact with Ethiopia throughout, which had supported its handling of the drama.

He said the hijackers had originally demanded to be flown on to a third country and had also asked for visas to both Britain and the United States.

But he said the Sudanese negotiators had eventually persuaded them to settle for remaining in Sudan.


The Antonov military plane had been diverted while flying from Bahr Dar in northern Ethiopia to Addis Ababa, the capital.

Hijack unfolds
0058 GMT 27 April
Hijackers release remaining passengers
2110 GMT 26 April
Hijackers release all 11 women and children
2050 GMT
One of the hijackers leaves the plane
1925 GMT
A crew man escapes
1800 GMT
Hijackers demand to meet US and British diplomats
1530 GMT
Sudanese authorities send negotiating team
1520 GMT
Plane lands at Khartoum international airport
Reports quoted one of the hijackers as saying their action was aimed at drawing attention to the country's economic and political problems.

The precise identities of the hijackers, however, has not yet been confirmed.

Sudanese television said they were all students, while the Ethiopian authorities insist they are failed trainee air force pilots.

In an interview with the BBC, Ethiopia's ambassador to the United Nations, Abdul Mejid Hussain, denied the affair was linked with student protests last week in Addis demanding greater freedom of speech.

The unrest left about 40 people dead and another 250 injured.

Demo ban

The hijacking came as the Ethiopian authorities began releasing most of the thousands of students they detained following the riots.

But students so far have refused to return to Addis Ababa University, where authorities were requiring them to sign a statement accepting a ban on demonstrations.

Student unrest in the 1960s and 1970s preceded upheavals that forced Ethiopia's last emperor, Haile Selassie, to institute reforms and ultimately led to him being ousted in 1974.

Students were also influential in organising resistance to the military regime that ruled Ethiopia from 1974 to 1991.

In recent years, several Sudanese passenger planes have been seized by Sudanese hijackers, most of whom were seeking political asylum.

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See also:

21 Mar 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Ethiopia
21 Dec 00 | Country profiles
Country profile: Sudan
21 Mar 01 | Africa
Timeline: Ethiopia
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