Police Seize Teen-age Hijacker
ROME (AP) _ An unarmed teen-ager claiming he had a bomb hijacked a KLM plane with 97 people aboard to Rome Wednesday and demanded $1 million, the airline said. Police arrested him four hours later and all hostages were released unharmed.
Zino Scioni, 15, had left his home on the Italian island of Sardinia Dec. 16 after a family argument and was being sent back there when he hijacked Flight 343 between Amsterdam and Milan, said KLM Chairman Johan de Soet.
Italian police handcuffed the hijacker after he got into a car they said would take him to a New York-bound aircraft, the news agency AGI reported.
The Boeing 737 was carrying 91 passengers and six crew members when it was hijacked shortly before its scheduled landing in Milan. Fifty passengers were Italian. The U.S. Embassy said there were no Americans.
State-run RAI television identified the boy as Adalgiso Scioni. The discrepancy could not be resolved immediately.
The boy ″walked into the cockpit and said what he wanted,″ said KLM spokeswoman Olga Vermue in Amsterdam. It was not known how he gained access to the flight deck, which is customarily locked on KLM flights.
″We’re going to Rome. I have a bomb in my hand luggage,″ passengers quoted him as saying. They said he was calm during the four-hour standoff and joked with the stewardesses.
After the plane landed at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci airport about 7 p.m., the boy threatened to blow up the aircraft unless authorities met his demands.
He told pilot Henk de Ridder he had a bomb in his luggage that could be set off from a control on his wristwatch, de Soet said. But police said the hijacker was unarmed.
The youth demanded a $1 million ransom and a plane, and first said he wanted to go to Kuwait, then Chad and finally the United States, de Soet told a news conference in Amsterdam.
The boy’s grandparents were involved in the negotiations, which he conducted with police and airline officials in the airport control tower, KLM officials said.
About 9 p.m., the hijacker released about 60 of the passengers. Two hours later, police tricked him into leaving the airplane and freed the remaining passengers and crew.
De Soet said the boy has a history of mental problems, but he did not elaborate.
He said the boy lived with his parents on Sardinia, but after an argument with them went to visit his grandparents in the Netherlands a week ago.
The grandparents had taken the boy to Schiphol Airport earlier Wednesday and put him aboard the KLM flight for the first leg of his return trip home, De Soet said. He did not identify the boy’s parents and grandparents or his hometown.
The Italian news agency ANSA said the boy is the son of a Sardinian, 52- year-old Angelo Scioni, and a Dutch woman, whom it did not identify. It said the boy’s father runs a small sportswear factory and printing business in Arbus, Sardinia.
″He kept pointing to his watch, saying ’This is a timer,‴ said one passenger, a 49-year-old Italian businessman from Verona who spoke on condition of anonymity.
″Thanks to the crew, the passengers remained calm,″ he said. ″Even the boy was serene and calm. He was in the cabin part of the time, and sometimes he came out to chat and joke with the hostesses.″
It was the first hijacking of a KLM plane in almost a decade.
The last KLM hijacking occurred Aug. 6, 1978, when a man armed with what was discovered to be a toy pistol seized the jet on a flight from Amsterdam to Madrid, but was overpowered during the flight by passengers and crew. The 20- year-old Dutch hijacker had told police he was tired of living in the Netherlands and wanted to go to Algeria. There were no injuries in that incident.