Alitalia 'hijacker' wanted to fly to Libya

Airline says Kazakh man was overpowered by cabin crew after assaulting a flight attendant and asking to go to Tripoli.

    The suspected hijacker, who was 'clearly agitated',  had assaulted a flight attendant, officials said [Reuters]

    A man who tried to hijack a Paris-Rome flight and take it to Libya was overpowered by cabin crew during the flight and arrested when the plane arrived in the Italian capital, officials said.

    Italian media reported that the attempted hijacking on Sunday was carried out by Valeriy Tolmachev, a 48-year-old adviser to the Kazakh delegation at the Paris-based UN cultural organisation, UNESCO.

    A statement from Alitalia airlines said the suspect had assaulted a flight attendant "and asked that the plane be taken to Tripoli", the Libyan capital.

    Other attendants on flight AZ329 then overpowered the suspect, who was "clearly agitated."

    A doctor on board the flight then sedated Tolmachev, and the captain radioed police, who arrested him when the plane landed, the statement said.

    Suspect 'armed'

    Italian media reports, quoting police sources, said the suspect was armed with what appeared to be a small knife.

    "The man grabbed the stewardess from behind her back and pointed the knife. She was in difficulty and tried to turn around," a passenger named Sofia told reporters.

    Stefanie, a French woman who lives in Italy, said the man laughed when the flight attendant asked him to go the front of the plane with her.

    "He held her for just a few minutes and then the other flight attendants intervened and passengers helped hold the man to the floor," she said.

    The flight attendant was taken to a first aid station at Rome airport for treatment of minor injuries. No other injuries were reported, and all 131 passengers aboard flight AZ329 disembarked safely in Rome.

    Tolmashev had no police record, according to the Italian inquiry team.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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