The United States brought charges of “air piracy” against four citizens of Belarus in connection with the landing of a Ryanair plane

The judicial authorities of the United States brought charges of “air piracy” against four citizens of Belarus in connection with the forced landing of a Ryanair aircraft in Minsk in 2021, informs US Department of Justice. They face from 20 years in prison to life imprisonment.

“Belarusian officials fabricated threat data in order to force the plane to change its route and land in Minsk instead of Vilnius. The purpose of redirecting the plane to Minsk was to arrest a Belarusian journalist and political activist,” the ministry explained.

Charges of “air piracy” were brought by the US Department of Justice to the head of “Belaeronavigatsia” Leonid Churo, his deputy Oleg Kazyuchits and two employees of the special services of Belarus.

“The accused are on the territory of Belarus. Each of them faces from 20 years in prison to life imprisonment,” the Ministry of Justice said in a statement.

Earlier in January, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) found inconsistencies in the statements of the Belarusian authorities about the landing of a Ryanair aircraft in Minsk on May 23. The pilots of the aircraft then received a message from the Minsk airport dispatcher about the alleged presence of a bomb on board:

ICAO said its governing board will meet on 31 January to decide on the organization’s next steps based on the report. The Council will also consider a complaint by Belarus, which believes that the restrictions and sanctions imposed on it after the incident with the Ryanair aircraft were illegal.

On May 23, 2021, ICAO launched an investigation into the pilots of a Ryanair aircraft flying from Athens to Vilnius with 126 passengers received a message from the Minsk airport controller about the alleged presence of a bomb on board. The dispatcher demanded the immediate landing of the liner in Minsk. After landing, the Belarusian security forces detained Belarusian opposition blogger Roman Protasevich, who was on board, and his girlfriend Sofya Sapega, a Russian citizen. They are under arrest in Minsk, they face long prison terms under articles on extremism. According to some information, Alexander Lukashenko personally authorized the operation to land the liner.

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