Lithuania launches terrorism investigation into the plane diversion


A Ryanair aircraft, which was carrying Belarusian opposition blogger and activist Roman Protasevich and diverted to Belarus, where authorities detained him, lands at Vilnius Airport in Vilnius, Lithuania May 23, 2021. REUTERS/Andrius Sytas

VILNIUS (Reuters) - Lithuanian prosecutors launched a criminal investigation into the forced landing of a Ryanair flight to Vilnius in Minsk, the General Prosecutors office said in a statement on Sunday.

The charges under investigation include hijacking of a plane for terrorism purposes and treatment of humans in violation of international treaties, it said in the statement.

Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte told reporters several people arriving on the plane were asked to give evidence immediately after arriving on Sunday.

"The unprecedented situation will have to be investigated very thoroughly," she said, speaking at the airport after meeting with the passengers on the diverted airplane.

Belarusian authorities scrambled a fighter jet and flagged what turned out to be a false bomb alert to force a Ryanair plane to land on Sunday and then detained an opposition-minded journalist 5who was on board, drawing criticism from across Europe.

(Reporting by Andrius Sytas in Vilnius; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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