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2 Czech Youths Hijack Jetliner to West Germany

March 30, 1989|From Times Wire Services

FRANKFURT, West Germany — Two Czechoslovak teen-agers armed with shotguns and grenades hijacked a Hungarian airliner in Prague on Wednesday and flew with 15 hostages to Frankfurt, where they surrendered without incident, airport officials and police said.

The Tupolev 154, a Soviet-made plane similar to a Boeing 727, landed at Frankfurt airport shortly after noon, and the boys, aged 15 and 16, gave themselves up 40 minutes later. No one was hurt.

The boys took control of Malev Hungarian Airlines Flight 640 at the airport in Prague, the Czechoslovak capital, at about 9:30 a.m. Witnesses at Ruzyne Airport said the teen-agers took a woman hostage, crashed through a glass wall of the VIP lounge, fired several shots and threatened a stewardess.

The Hungarian news agency MTI reported that the aircraft was on a scheduled flight from Budapest, Hungary, to Amsterdam.

MTI said that Lajos Taba, Hungarian consul general in Prague, boarded the aircraft and negotiated the release of 82 passengers, including all women and children, by trading himself for them. Taba was among the 11 passengers when the plane landed in Frankfurt.

Wanted to Go to U.S.

"They wanted to go to America," MTI London spokesman Tibor Koves said of the hijackers. "They probably just wanted to get out."

Hans Neitzel, chief spokesman for the Frankfurt police, said he could not confirm the hijackers' motives.

"They said they wanted to go to America, but why they wanted to go, whether they have relatives there or what, we don't know," he said. "Maybe it was just youthful adventure."

He said they were being held for hijacking, but "whether they will be extradited will be decided through diplomatic channels."

West German television reported that the two had asked to stay in West Germany.

Neitzel said the passengers still aboard the plane when it landed in Frankfurt were three Hungarians, four Czechoslovaks, a Dutch citizen, two Canadians and a Romanian, as well as the crew of four.

Hungary's news agency and CTK, the official Czechoslovak agency, said the flight crew convinced the young hijackers that the plane could not cross the ocean and that they then demanded to be taken to Barcelona, Spain.

After entering West German airspace, however, the youths told the pilot to land at Frankfurt because they wanted to deal with the Americans at nearby military facilities, said Hans-Ulrich Ohl, head of the federal flight safety office in Frankfurt.

U.S. military authorities refused to allow the Hungarian jet onto Rhein-Main Air Base.

It was the first hijacking of a Hungarian aircraft. There was a hijack attempt in Warsaw in 1982, but the plane did not take off and the suspects were captured.

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