Last Sunday a flight operated by low cost airline Ryanair was diverted on approach to their final destination of Vilnius, Lithuania to Minsk in Belarus. A dummy terrorist threat was issued against the aircraft and a fighter jet also “escorted” the aircraft to make the unscheduled stop.
Upon arrival one of the passengers Roman Protasevich was arrested by the Belarus authorities. Mr Protasevich is a dissident journalist and outspoken critic of the Belarusian autocratic leader Alexander Lukashenko.
The terrorist threat was a ruse by the Belarus authorities in order to arrest Mr Protasevich and has caused wide spread international outrage.
Passengers on board the aircraft describe harrowing scenes on board once the aircraft began its dissent with some on board commenting that they believed the aircraft was going to crash.
Understandably passengers were very shaken from the ordeal not the least of which was Mr Protasevich who has since appeared in a “confessional” video along with his girlfriend Ms Sofia Sapega who has also been arrested. The video appears to show the couple confessing to a criminal offence with many outsiders arguing that the confession was made under duress.
There are strict international laws governing these types of situations. Once the treat was made the plane had no choice but to diverted to the nearest safe harbour.
Understandably no compensation under the consumer protection Regulation EC 261/2004 is payable to the beleaguered passengers on board as the events that transpired would undoubtable be classified as “extraordinary circumstances”.
Time will tell whether there any serious international repercussions from the actions of the Belarusian authorities.
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