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The BBC's Stephen Cviic
"Sudan told the hijackers they would be not be sent back to Ethiopia"
 real 56k

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, 10:29 GMT 11:29 UK
Ethiopia seeks hijackers' return
Hijacked Ethiopian Antonov
The plane was seized on an internal Ethiopian flight
The Ethiopian Government says it will be seeking the extradition from Sudan of the five hijackers of an Ethiopian military aircraft forced to land in Khartoum on Thursday.

The route of the hijacked plane
Hijack route
But the government is not sure if an extradition treaty exists with Sudan.

The Sudanese authorities detained the hijackers saying they would stand trial in Sudan under international law.

The five hijackers were granted asylum after they released, unharmed, all passengers and crew.

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."

The motive for the hijack remains unclear.

Disgruntled

The BBC correspondent in Addis Ababa says that according to sources at the Ministry of Defence, the five hijackers are failed trainee pilots in the Ethiopian air force.
Hijacker Bagemberman Tebegne
One of the hijackers orders hostages to be released

They were thrown out of college for not passing their examinations.

Senior foreign affairs official Yemane Kidane confirmed this.

He said that the trainees were disgruntled by their predicament and, facing little opportunities in Ethiopia, organised the hijack in an attempt to escape to a better life elsewhere.

The plane, which belongs to the Ethiopian Air Force, landed in the Sudanese capital at 1820 local time on Thursday (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.

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
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.

Reports quoted one of the hijackers as saying their action was aimed at drawing attention to the country's economic and political problems.

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.

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

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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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