Malta Plane Hijack: Freed Passengers Left For Libya


Valletta: The passengers from a Libyan flight that was hijacked and diverted to Malta left the Mediterranean island Saturday to return home, as authorities prepared to arraign the two hijackers who surrendered.

Afriqiyah Airways sent an aircraft to Malta to bring the more than 100 passengers back to Libya. Malta’s interior minister, Carmelo Abela, said the passengers had been interviewed by police before leaving early Saturday.

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The two Libyan hijackers had diverted the domestic flight Friday to demand asylum in Europe and create a new political party in honor of the late dictator Moammar Gadhafi, officials said. After hours of negotiations, the standoff ended peacefully with the hijackers freeing all 117 people on board and walking off the plane to surrender.

Police had said it was likely the hijackers, who had threatened to blow up the plane with hand grenades, would be arraigned Saturday. But police officials said no date or time had been set and that the investigation was continuing. The hijacked aircraft remained on the tarmac of Malta’s international airport, guarded by the Armed Forces of Malta.