Hijacker on the run from Swiss prison

Hussein Hariri did not return to the Plaine de l'Orbe jail in Bochuz in canton Vaud Keystone

Swiss police are on high alert after a hijacker, who was serving a life sentence, failed to return to his cell from weekend leave.

This content was published on September 9, 2002 - 20:22

Police said Hussein Hariri did not show up at Plaine de l'Orbe jail in Bochuz in canton Vaud on Sunday night.

The 36-year-old Lebanese was convicted in 1989 for killing a passenger and seriously wounding a flight attendant during the hijacking of an Air Afrique flight to Geneva in 1987.

Prison authorities said Hariri had been granted improved detention conditions in preparation for his release on parole in 2004. They said he had always obeyed regulations in the past.

However, this is not the first time Hariri has gone on the run. In 1992, he and four other inmates overpowered prison guards, seized a truck and drove it through a fence around the prison. He was recaptured a week later.

DC-10 plane

In 1987, the then 21-year-old Hariri commandeered a DC-10 plane flying from Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo to Paris.

He demanded the release of Lebanese and Palestinians held by France, West Germany and Israel.

However, the plane had to land in Geneva for refuelling, where he shot dead a 28-year-old Frenchman.

Swiss police eventually stormed the hijacked jet and arrested Hariri after crew-members overpowered him.

During his trial, he told the court he was a "soldier of God" and did not intend to kill.

He refused to testify about allegations that he was on a mission for the pro-Iranian Hezbollah group.

Swiss authorities have circulated Hariri's description both in Switzerland and abroad.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Hariri was 21 years old, when he hijacked the Air Afrique flight.
He was sentenced to life in prison in 1989.
He was due to be released on parole in 2004.
In 1992, he went on the run but was recaptured a week later.

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