UN Claims Belarus Responsible for Ryanair Grounding Last Year

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations Specialized Agency, accused Belarusian officials of unlawfully grounding a Ryanair flight between Greece and Lithuania  to arrest dissident journalist Raman Pratasevich.

According to reports, the ICAO said on Tuesday that senior Belarusian officials were behind the hoax bomb threat on the Ryanair Holdings PLC flight last year.  

In May 2021, the jet was en route from Athens to Vilnius when Belarusian air traffic controllers ordered Ryanair FR4978 to land in Minsk, citing a bomb threat. 

Early this year, the ICAO Council “expressed concern at the gaps in information provided by Belarus and the inconsistences contained in the evidence available at the time of the investigation,” as they discussed the Report on Fact Finding into Ryanair FR4978.

The Council also ” highlighted that the bomb threat against FR4978 was deliberately false and had endangered the safety of an aircraft in flight.”

On Tuesday, ICAO for the first time, condemned Minsk for “committing an act of unlawful interference.”  

“The ICAO Council acknowledged that the bomb threat against (the flight) … was deliberately false and endangered its safety, and furthermore that the threat was communicated to the flight crew upon the instructions of senior government officials of Belarus,” the agency said. 

ICAO also said that a representative from Russia strongly objected to the conclusion.  

Previously, Minsk insisted it acted legally and under all international norms and accused Western countries of using the Ryanair episode to undermine President Alexander Lukashenko. 

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