Plane occupation by Iranian exiles ends
11 March 2005, BRUSSELS/FRANKFURT - A group of unarmed Iranian exiles who occupied a Lufthansa airliner for nearly 14 hours in Brussels to press political demands were freed on Friday, and were unlikely to face state criminal proceedings, Interior Minister Patrick Dewael said.
11 March 2005
BRUSSELS/FRANKFURT - A group of unarmed Iranian exiles who occupied a Lufthansa airliner for nearly 14 hours in Brussels to press political demands were freed on Friday, and were unlikely to face state criminal proceedings, Interior Minister Patrick Dewael said.
However, Lufthansa confirmed that it had started legal proceedings of its own in Belgium, charging the protesters with a breach of the peace and coercion.
Lufthansa is also seeking compensation for the costs incurred as a result of the occupation of its aircraft, but a spokesman did not reveal how much was involved.
As the doors of the aircraft were open, the proceedings would fall under Belgian and not German jurisdiction.
The 59 Iranian exiles agreed to leave the plane early Friday after police moved in.
Officials said Dewael made the decision to move the occupied plane to an isolated area away from the terminal before sending in Belgian police.
The Iranian exiles were taken into custody at the airport for questioning, and later released.
The Iranian exiles said they were staging a hunger strike to put pressure on European countries to end their support of the leadership in their home country.
They had demanded a written declaration, but Dewael said that no promises had been made to the group.
Negotiations between the group and Belgian officials failed and the plane's occupiers had rejected a final ultimatum.
The plane, with 120 passengers, had landed in Brussels on Thursday after a flight from Frankfurt, Germany, but the Iranian exiles refused to deplane with the other passengers.
Belgian police were busy gathering the personal details of the exiles, who can then return home if all their documents are in order, police spokeswoman Els Cleempt said.
The occupation ended peacefully with only one of the 59 offering any resistance, Cleempt said, but he also left the aircraft later without handcuffs.
Subject: German news