Hijacker to be tried in Athens

A young Turk arrested at Athens airport on Saturday after using a razor and a dozen candles to hijack an airliner as it left Istanbul on Friday was remanded in custody yesterday pending trial in Greece. The investigating magistrate who interviewed Ozgur Gencaslan yesterday also ruled that the 20-year-old Turk, who had wanted to go to Berlin, should be examined by psychiatrists. Gencaslan was charged with the criminal offenses of infringing flight rules and commandeering an aircraft – and, thereby, endangering human lives – as well as the misdemeanor of illegally bearing arms. He was taken to Avlona Prison for young offenders in northern Attica. Government spokesman Christos Protopappas said Turkey had not yet officially requested the alleged hijacker’s extradition. «He will be tried under Greek law,» he said. None of the 203 passengers and crew on the Turkish Airlines Airbus-310, which had been scheduled to fly to Ankara, was hurt, while all but the two pilots were released three hours after the plane landed at the Eleftherios Venizelos Airport. Gencaslan, who surrendered to police on the plane, took over the Airbus armed with a razor and what he said was an explosives belt. It turned out to contain candles. Gencaslan told the investigating magistrate he had been desperate to reach Berlin, where his wife lives, as German authorities had refused to issue him a visa. Yesterday, Protopappas made a point of extolling the Greek authorities’ reaction to the hijacking, playing down reports from Turkey that the country’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had almost single-handedly defused the crisis by talking to Gencaslan over the phone. He also denied that Foreign Minister George Papandreou had phoned his German counterpart in an attempt to pass on the problem to Berlin.