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Turkey says two hijackers involved, not one

Turkey says two hijackers involved, not one

Turkey's Justice Minister said yesterday a second Turkish national helped hijack a Turkish Airline plane to Italy.
"It has been understood that the plane was hijacked by two Turkish citizens, Hakan Ekinci of Izmir and Mehmet Ertas of Antakya," the Justice Ministry said.
Initially, the authorities had said Ekinci was acting alone during Tuesday's hijacking and that he had no accomplices.
As of press time last night, Turkey had little background information on Ertas, but questioned the motives of Ekinci, a Turkish deserter - also reportedly a convert to Christianity and a conscientious objector - for hijacking a plane to Italy, amid reports that he was "mentally unstable" and had a criminal record.
Ekinci, 28, who deserted his Istanbul garrison in May and fled to Albania, on Tuesday seized the Turkish Airlines Tirana-Istanbul flight on which he was being deported, threatening the pilot with a parcel disguised as a bomb, officials said.
He told the pilot he had a message for Pope Benedict XVI, but asked for political asylum after surrendering, without harming anyone, in the Italian city of Brindisi.
He had made an unsuccessful bid for asylum in Albania earlier.
Ekinci wrote to Pope Benedict XVI in August, saying he was a convert to Christianity and a conscientious objector and pleaded for the pontiff's help to avoid Turkey's compulsory military service.
In an August interview with the leftist Birgun newspaper from a U.N.-run refugee camp in Albania, Ekinci said he would not return to Turkey "whatever happens" because, "I reject the law of compulsory military service that keeps me away from my motherland."
Evading military service is punishable with a prison term of up to five years in Turkey, which does not recognize the right to be a conscientious objector and offers no chance of public service as an alternative to the draft.
Adding to the controversy, his sister Zeynep told the daily Sabah that he was a devout Muslim who "never let the Koran out of his hands" and prayed regularly.


Updated : 2021-06-14 11:32 GMT+08:00