Malta jails Libyan hijacker for 25 years

·1-min read

VALLETTA (Reuters) - One of two Libyan men who hijacked a plane and diverted it to Malta four years ago was jailed for 25 years by a Maltese judge on Wednesday.

The Afriqiyah Airlines Airbus 320 was on an internal flight to Tripoli when it was hijacked on Dec. 23, 2016 by the men, supporters of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

They threatened to blow up the plane unless their demands were met, but the Maltese government refused to negotiate before the 109 passengers on board were released.

The hijackers, one of them flying the all-green former Libyan flag, surrendered after four hours without ever making their demands clear. Their weapons turned out to be fake.

One of the men, Soko Moussa Shaha Ali pleaded guilty on Wednesday and was jailed for 25 years. Another suspect, Ali Ahmed Saleh, is denying involvement.

Judge Consuelo Scerri Herrera said that although no one was injured, the court had to show that it took such acts of terrorism very seriously.

(Reporting by Christopher Scicluna; editing by Gavin Jones and Sandra Maler)