We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

The Ryanair flight finally landing in Lithuania after it was first diverted to Belarus Alamy Stock Photo

Diverted Ryanair flight investigation concludes that Belarus' actions were 'unlawful'

A Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania was forced to land in Belarus last year.

THE UNITED NATIONS agency in charge of investigating the diversion of a Ryanair flight by Belarus last year has completed its review, once again pointing the finger at the “unlawful” actions carried out by Minsk.

A Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania was forced to land in Minsk on 23 May 23, 2021, with Belarusian authorities arresting dissident journalist, Roman Protasevich, and his partner, Sofia Sapega, who were on board.

“The ICAO Council concluded its discussions yesterday on the May 2021 incident in Belarus airspace involving Ryanair Flight FR4978, condemning the actions of the Government of Belarus in committing an act of unlawful interference,” the International Civil Aviation Organization said in a statement.

The investigation was extended in early January to establish certain “missing facts” and examine new information.

The Montreal-based ICAO studied audio recordings of the Minsk air traffic controller who was monitoring the affected flight.

The agency said that the bomb threat used as excuse to divert the aircraft was “deliberately false and endangered its safety.”

“The threat was communicated to the flight crew upon the instructions of senior government officials of Belarus,” it concluded.

The statement added that the council representative of Russia — a close ally of Minsk — had “expressed his State’s strong objection to identifying Belarus as the source of the unlawful interference which took place.”

It said that the council, made up of 36 countries, had asked its president to pass the findings of the investigation on to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

The ICAO’s mission is to enact the rules governing global civil air transport, but it has no power to impose sanctions.

In the event of a proven violation of international rules, its role is to provide support for any countries wishing to pronounce condemnations or apply sanctions, in accordance with the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation, the institution said.

Last month, Sapega asked for a pardon from Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko after being sentenced to six years in prison for “inciting social hatred” and “illegal collection of personal data.”

Protasevich is currently under house arrest pending trial.

© AFP 2022

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel