Aeroflot plane makes emergency landing in Prague
Thursday started off like any other day in the flight control tower at Prague's Ruzyne airport. But that routine calm ended just after 10 am, when controllers received two reports from the cockpit of a Russian Aeroflot plane on route from Moscow to Geneva. A passenger had suddenly fallen ill and the plane needed to land in Prague, the captain reported. Four minutes later a new report came in - the passenger was not ill but was attempting to hijack the plane. Dita Asiedu reports:
"The 32-year old suspect has been charged with threatening air space security and breaking aviation regulations. He is currently being questioned, after which we will propose to place him in police custody. If found guilty of the charges, he will face between eight and fifteen years in prison."
Had the charter plane really been under the control of hijackers, it appears the Czech authorities would have managed the situation well. Upon the captain's emergency call, two Gripen fighter planes were immediately dispatched from the Caslav military base to tail the plane. Emergency vehicles were lined along the runway and police psychologists and doctors were ready in the airport terminals to attend to passengers.
Shortly after 10 pm on Thursday, the Aeroflot plane headed off for its original destination. Of the 170 passengers, only Yevgenyi Dagajev and his eight family members have been detained in Prague for further police questioning. Since the incident took place onboard a Russian plane, it legally occurred on Russian territory. The foreign ministry, state prosecution, and Russian Embassy are therefore debating whether Mr Dagajev will stay in the Czech Republic. He could face a longer prison term if tried in a Russian court.