The co pilot and hijacker of his own plane has been identified as Hailemedhin Abera Tegegn, 31 years of age. He is an Ethiopian National who gave up a career as an architect to become a pilot. He has worked for Ethiopian Airlines for five years. He is an orthodox Christian. His parents are alive and he has seven brothers and sisters. He has a girlfriend who runs her own cafe.
Why he did it remains a mystery.
Hailemedhin said he was requesting asylum in Geneva for fear of persecution in his native country. The Ethiopian government said the Ethiopian constitution guarantees freedom for any citizen to leave the country at any time.
Plus he was a pilot. As I blogged yesterday, “why did he hijack a plane? Why didn’t he stroll off to an embassy while off duty in a European country?:
His family claim he was forced to hijack the plane for some reason: The co pilot is my youngest brother. We call him Tadlo. He loves working for Ethiopian Airlines. There must be more to the story Enona Erigo (@TheSoland) , sister on Twitter.
There is speculation that his father has been involved in unsavoury business practices.
There have been reports that Tegegn was in mourning over the death of an uncle a month before. His family believe he was mentally ill. A sister said: “He was suffering from mixing the real and the ideal world,” she said, adding that the family would help him get medical help if he is returned to Ethiopia. This begs the question, why didn’t the family warn the airline that their brother was unwell? Flying 200 passengers in a complex machine is a significant responsibility. Mechanical faults, pilot breakdown and hijackings all come in my list of things I don’t want to experience when flying.
Whatever the reasons, he now faces a three month investigation, then trial and if found guilty 20 years in jail in Switzerland.