Man Arrested After Hijacking Plane to Lithuania With PM-Lithuania, Bjt
MOSCOW (AP) _ A mentally ill man who claimed to have a bomb hijacked an Aeroflot jetliner to Lithuania today, but he was arrested without incident when the aircraft landed in the republic’s capital, officials said.
The hijacker wanted to help Lithuania by turning over the state-owned Tu- 134 jet to the Baltic republic, said Marijonas Misiukonis, Lithuania’s internal affairs minister. Moscow recently threatened Lithuania with an economic blockade after the republic delcared independence.
No explosives were found after police took the man into custody in the capital of Vilnius, said Valery Akolsin, spokesman for the Soviet Ministry of Civil Aviation.
No injuries were reported among the approximately 70 passengers aboard Flight 2443, which was en route from Moscow to Leningrad when the hijacking occurred. American, Japanese and Cuban tourists were among the passengers, Vilnius Radio said. The number of crew members was not immediately known.
The radio said the man, identified as Igor Kalugin, claimed to have acquaintances in Lithuania.
Kalugin boarded the flight at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, then shortly after takeoff told the cabin attendent he was carrying a bomb in a parcel and demanded the plane change course, Akolsin said.
″He called for the stewardess and claimed that he had an explosive device in his lap, and pointed to paper wrapped around an object he was holding tightly against himself,″ Akolsin said.
The aircraft’s three-man cockpit crew agreed to Kalugin’s demands after consulting with authorities on the ground and receiving permission to land in Vilnius, the spokesman said.
After the plane landed, it taxied to a remote section of the airport, where Kalugin, still clutching the parcel, was put into a car and driven from the airport, according to a tower dispatcher.
The other passengers were taken off the plane and transferred to a special hall for foreigners while authorities searched the plane for explosives.
After finding none in a 90-minute search, authorities allowed the plane to resume its journey to Leningrad, Akolsin said.
Akolsin said Kalugin was a registered patient at a psychiatric clinic in Moscow. Misiukonis also said he was registered in Moscow as being mentally ill.
Vilnius Radio said the man, about 46 or 47 years old, was employed as a fireman at a Moscow theater.