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Judge Questions ‘Pacifist’ Hijackers; Hostages Returning to Algeria

November 14, 1994

PALMA DE MALLORCA, Spain (AP) _ Three men who hijacked an Algerian airliner with a coffee grinder described themselves as pacifists, authorities said today.

The three Algerians were being questioned by a Spanish judge, a day after they forced the plane, with 35 people aboard, to land on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca. Before giving themselves up, they threatened to blow up the plane with the coffee grinder, which they said was a bomb.

A 22-year-old male nurse, Merzak Benachoir, told Spanish negotiators he and two companions, Mohamed Nedjar, 25, and Madjid Arab, 27, were pacifists who sought the release of political prisoners and the rescheduling of Algerian elections canceled in 1992.

The hijackers diverted the Fokker-27 turboprop plane from its scheduled route in Algeria.

Airport director Pedro Meaurio said the three men represented no political party. ″They just wanted to give a message to the world,″ he said.

The passengers and four-member crew of the Air Algerie plane were expected to fly back to Algeria today, Llomport said.

Algeria’s ambassador to Spain, Rahabi Abdelazziz, said Algeria would not request the hijackers be returned because the two countries do not have an extradition treaty.

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