Ukrainian charged over bid to hijack Turkish plane


ISTANBUL: An Istanbul court on Sunday charged a Ukrainian man over his failed attempt to force a Turkish airliner to land in Sochi where the Winter Olympics opening ceremony was underway.

The Dogan news agency said the man had been placed in provisional detention, but did not specify the charge against the 45-year-old Ukrainian identified in Turkish media as Artem Kozlov.

The crime of hijacking an aircraft carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison in Turkey.

Anti-terrorist police interrogated the suspect who was taken into custody on Friday after two Turkish F-16 jets forced the airliner down at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen airport

The man was said to have railed against Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, accusing them of having their hands “drenched in blood”.

He demanded the Istanbul-bound Boeing 737 jet be flown to Sochi where Yanukovych was holding crisis talks with Putin on the sidelines of the Games’ opening ceremony.

The would-be hijacker — reported by one official in Kiev as being “in an advanced state of drunkenness” — brandished what he said was a detonator as he tried gaining access to the cockpit. He was later found to be carrying no weapons or explosives.

The plane, operated by Turkey’s Pegasus Airlines, left from the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv with 110 people on board.

The crew tied the man up with rope after tricking him into believing they were headed for Sochi.

Ukraine has launched its own terror probe into the incident.

Kiev has been rocked by over two months of massive and often violent protests since Yanukovych ditched an historic EU trade and political pact in favour of closer ties with its former Soviet master Moscow.

Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) investigative department chief Maxim Lenko said that the man had also demanded the release of Ukrainian “hostages”.

This was a reference to the dozens of demonstrators detained by police.

Turkish Transport Minister Lutfi Elvan on Saturday ruled out the attempt being part of a wider terror network.

“This was not something very serious,” he said. “It was an act of a single individual”. AFP


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  1. In the evening on 7th of February a passenger of the airplane Boeing-737-800, flying from Kharkiv to Istanbul, tried to force the crew to change the direction and fly to Sochi, where the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games took place. He stated the pilots that there were Putin and Yanukovych in Sochi, which hands in blood, and announced requirements to free all hostages in Ukraine. In case of non-fulfillment of the requirements the passenger threatened to blow up the airplane by explosive device.

    The crew decided to make two distracting circles above the Black Sea and landed in the Istanbul airport. Two F – 16 of the Turkish Air Forces were lifted in the air to accompany the airplane. After landing the airplane was towed off to a safe place.

    The airplane was searched but explosive materials or some weapons on the board were not found. The “terrorist” was detained by the Turkish law enforcement authorities.

    Personality of the terrorist was identified. It was a citizen of Ukraine Artem Kozlov (born in 1969). He is from Kharkiv. It is known as an active opposition political figure. On last summer he was an author of comments “Get up, Ukraine” in social networks posts. In 2012 he headed Leninist district organization of “Front zmin” (leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk), and in 2013 he was personal web-site administrator of the deputy of Kharkiv Regional Council from “Batkivshchyna” (leader Yulia Tymoshenko) Ivan Varchenko. Presently he is the activist of “BLOW of Vitaly Klychko” political party.

    He became permanent participant of “evromaidan” from the moment of its beginning in Kyiv. In social networks posts laid out photos with Vitaly Klychko, Yuriy Lutsenko and landscapes of Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) in Kyiv.

    Presently Artem Kozlov suspected by Ukrainian law enforcement in organization of mass disturbances and preparation of terrorist acts in Kyiv.

    After the search of his apartment was found documents that affirm his active political activity- leaflets of “evromaidan ” and “black-list of “Party of Regions” properties.

    On February, 9 in Istanbul he was arrested under the decision of the court. Officials do not announce, what kind of crimes he is been accused of.