Belarus withheld information from Ryanair diversion probe, U.N. says

A Ryanair plane, which was carrying Belarusian opposition blogger and activist Roman Protasevich and diverted to Belarus, the place authorities detained him, lands at Vilnius Airport in Vilnius, Lithuania May 23, 2021. REUTERS/Andrius Sytas/File Photo

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VILNIUS, Jan 19 (Reuters) – A United Nations report into the compelled diversion of a Ryanair (RYA.I) jetliner final 12 months has discovered {that a} bomb menace that drew the aircraft to Minsk was “intentionally false” and that Belarus withheld essential information from its fact-finding workforce.

The UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization arrange a specialist fact-finding workforce in May 2021, days after Belarus diverted the Vilnius-bound jet carrying a needed opponent to Minsk following what it described as a bomb menace.

Dissident Belarus journalist Roman Protasevich and his Russian girlfriend had been detained in Minsk following the diversion, which befell shortly earlier than the jet was on account of go away Belarus airspace, prompting worldwide uproar.

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Girlfriend Sofia Sapega has since been charged with inciting social hatred and will resist 12 years in jail, whereas Protasevich stays underneath home arrest.

The report, despatched to ICAO’s 193 member states on Monday, mentioned Belarus authorities didn’t correctly contact Ireland-based Ryanair in regards to the alleged bomb menace, regardless of laws urging them to take action, and didn’t assist crew discuss to their base.

The pilots agreed to divert to Minsk after a Belarus air visitors controller declared “code crimson”, indicating a reputable menace to the plane necessitating a right away touchdown.

It is inconceivable Ryanair would have agreed to declare “code crimson” within the circumstances, mentioned the report, which concluded that the bomb menace was “intentionally false”. No individual or state has been recognized because the supply of an apparently unlawful hoax, it mentioned.

European Union leaders and human rights teams have accused Belarus of fabricating the bomb menace with the intention to lure the aircraft to its territory and allow the arrest of Protasevich.

Belarus has mentioned it acted legally and in accordance with all worldwide norms, and accused the West of making an attempt to make use of the episode to attempt to undermine President Alexander Lukashenko.

A Belarus presidential spokesperson didn’t instantly reply to a request for touch upon the ICAO report.


Citing a pilot witness, the report mentioned a seek for the alleged bomb contained in the cabin on the bottom in Minsk was cursory and took simply 18 minutes to finish.

Emergency companies had been instructed to face down earlier than the search was over and earlier than the luggage maintain was opened for checks, it mentioned. Despite the supposed menace, disembarking passengers took half-hour and the pilot was allowed to stay onboard, it mentioned.

ICAO additionally laid out lapses in co-operation with its mission.

Its workforce “was not supplied with a passable rationale to elucidate why information had not been preserved” contemplating that native felony and different investigations had been underneath method.

Belarus additionally refused to offer entry to the controller of the Ryanair flight or to the decision information of officers, nor did it present footage from well-placed airport cameras.

The investigation was not given a duplicate of an e-mail containing the bomb menace or e-mail server logs, the report added. It cited information from a Switzerland-registered e-mail supplier as exhibiting the e-mail was despatched solely after the jet had begun its descent in the direction of Minsk.

Belarus instructed the investigation it obtained the e-mail half-hour earlier however offered solely a screenshot as a proof.

Ryanair had no speedy touch upon the report.

The report is the primary worldwide discovering since Belarusian carriers had been banned from flying over EU and UK territory. The EU and Britain have additionally urged their airways to keep away from Belarusian air area except in an emergency. read more

The EU has imposed journey bans and asset freezes on 86 Belarusian people and firms, together with transport and defence ministers, in response to the grounding. read more

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Reporting by Andrius Sytas in Vilnius, Editing by Tim Hepher, William Maclean

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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