One of the men behind the 2016 Afriqiyah Airways hijack, 29-year-old Libyan man Shah Soko Moussa, has been sentenced to 25 years in prison and was ordered to pay the sum of €9,990.
If the sum is not paid within a year, it will be converted into a prison sentence.
Moussa had hijacked an Afriqiyah Airways flight together with 30-year-old Ali Ahmed Saleh back on 23rd December 2016, which landed in Malta.
The two had seized the Airbus A320 in Libyan airspace and diverted it to Malta. 111 passengers and six crew members were on board. The perpetrators had attempted to storm the plane’s locked cockpit, all whilst armed with replica weapons.
Moussa had also threatened to blow up the plane by passing on a message to a crew member. The message read “you have to land in Rome or I will explode the plane”.
The pair of hijackers were loyal to the late Libyan dictator, with some Libyan media even claiming that they hijacked the plane because they wanted publicity for a new political party. One of the hijackers was also seen waving the green Libyan flag after the plane had landed in Malta.
Last February, Moussa pleaded guilty to the charges brought against him. Amongst other things, Moussa was charged with terrorism, hijacking, and undertaking a violent act on a plane.
Some of the charges brought against Moussa can result in life sentences.
Judge Consuelo Scerri Herrera pointed out that the aeroplane’s passengers weren’t aware that they had been hijacked until after they were let off the plane. Passengers were told that the plane had to land in Malta because of bad weather.
The judge also pointed out that the accused did not resist arrest, did not use real firearms, and was not aggressive with the plane’s passengers.
Nonetheless, Scerri Herrera insisted that Malta is obliged to take strict action against terrorism to show the world that these acts cannot be accepted under any circumstances.