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Co-pilot hijacks Ethiopian plane, forces it to land in Geneva

In a bizarre incident, a co-pilot of an Ethiopian Airlines, which was going to Rome, today hijacked the plane and forced the flight to land in Geneva. Officials said that the hijacker was taken into custody as soon as the plane landed in Geneva.

Flight ET-702 from Addis Ababa to Rome "was hijacked... it landed in Geneva at 6:00 am (0500 GMT)," Geneva police spokesman Christophe Fortis said, adding that hijacker "has been arrested."

"The situation is under control... Police intervened and arrested the hijacker," said a spokesman for the airport, which was briefly closed."

Geneva police spokesman Eric Grandjean told reporters that the co-pilot took control of the plane when the pilot went to the bathroom.

"He said he felt threatened in his country and wants to seek asylum in Switzerland," he said.

The 31-year-old co-pilot is an Ethiopian citizen and he had contacted Geneva airport and said "he needed to land to fill the tank. After that he announced the hijacking," Staempfli said.

"At 6:02 am, the plane landed safely," he said, adding that the co-pilot came out of the plane by using a rope.

"He didn't have a weapon with him," he said. The hijacker will be produced before a judge on Monday.

Staempfli said that as per the law of the land, the co-pilot can be charged with "hostage-taking," and could face up to 20 years in prison.

Ethiopian Airlines said in a statement in Addis Ababa that "the passengers are safe and sound".

It is learned that some 200 people were on board the plane when it was hijacked.