Five passengers did not arrive in Vilnius after a forced landing in Belarus



According to Lithuanian officials, the five passengers on the Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius, intercepted by Belarusian fighters and forced to land in Minsk on Sunday, did not reach their final destination.

The actions of Belarus, which detained dissident journalist Roman Protasevic on board, have sparked international criticism.

A Lithuanian Prime Minister spokesman said the latest information available from Ryanair suggests that 126 passengers left the Greek capital and 121 arrived in Lithuania.

In a previous comment by Lithuanian authorities, the number of passengers was 123-127, including the crew. None of the officials commented on the identities of the remaining passengers in Minsk.

“Ryanair has corrected the number of passengers listed three times. With the latest amendment, 126 passengers left Athens and 121 landed in Vilnius, which included six. The crew is not included, “spokesman Rasa Jakilaitiene told Reuters.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary called the incident a state-sponsored hijacker, but said on Monday that security agencies were in flight and believed he had disembarked in Minsk.

The University of Belarus in Vilnius said that one of its students, 23-year-old Sophia Sapega, who was traveling with Protasevic, was also detained in Minsk. The university demanded her release.

Lithuanian police questioned passengers disembarking in Vilnius after the flight finally arrived at their destination and were inspecting the aircraft, criminal police chief Laurandas Kiskiss told reporters.

A Lithuanian deputy prosecutor said the investigation could take months.

The Lithuanian government advised citizens to refrain from traveling to Belarus and urged those currently in the country to leave immediately. He also told aircraft using Vilnius Airport to avoid Belarusian airspace.

By Andrius Sytas and Nerijus Adomaitis

Posted on