Riyadh Renews Demand for Extradition of Two Saudi Hijackers
Saudi Arabia on Monday kept up its demand for the extradition of two of its nationals who hijacked a Saudi plane to Baghdad on October 15 and have since been granted political asylum in Iraq.
"Saudi Arabia demands it (their extradition), and this demand is legitimate under international and Arab agreements," Deputy Interior Minister Prince Ahmad bin Abdel Aziz said.
"The two hijackers put the life of innocent people in danger, a crime for which they must be punished," Prince Ahmad told reporters, adding he "was not aware of any mediation in this affair" between Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
"The investigation is ongoing and each one will be held responsible for his actions," he vowed, adding the two hijackers had smuggled a pistol on to the plane without the help of any accomplices at the airport in Jeddah, western Saudi Arabia.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammad Said al-Sahhaf said Sunday that his country had granted political asylum to the two hijackers, Faisal Naji al-Balawi and Ayesh Ali al-Fridi.
The Boeing 777 flying from Jeddah to London was hijacked to Baghdad. Its passengers were quickly released unharmed at the Saddam International Airport and the hijackers were taken into custody and questioned by Iraqi authorities.
Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdel Aziz had said his country would contact Interpol over its extradition request, as Riyadh and Baghdad have not had diplomatic relations since the 1991 Gulf War.
But his Iraqi counterpart, Mohammad Zamman Abdel Razzak, said the Iraqi people had "never, throughout their long history, handed over an intruder and even less so if he is using his right to his land, Iraq being the land of all Arabs" -- RIYADH (AFP)
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