2021.05.28 10:52

FBI joins Poland, Lithuania in investigating forced plane landing in Minsk

BNS2021.05.28 10:52

Besides Polish and Lithuanian law enforcement, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has also launched an investigation into the recent forced landing of a Ryanair flight in Minsk.

"Besides the pre-trial investigation launched in Poland, we also have information from US colleagues that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has also started its own investigation,” Rolandas Kiškis, head of the Lithuanian Criminal Police Bureau, told reporters on Friday.

“We are also in active cooperation with colleagues from Ireland and Greece. It is happening everyday, 24/7," he added.

All crew members of the Ryanair plane and "around 90 percent of all passengers" have been questioned.

Gintas Ivanauskas, a deputy prosecutor general, says the Ryanair plane is still at Vilnius Airport due to the ongoing investigation. Additional plane inspections are planned over the next several days.

Joint investigation

According to Ivanauskas, a joint investigation team is now being formed with Polish prosecutors as the country is also carrying out a pre-trial investigation into the incident since the plane is registered in Poland.

The FBI has likely launched its own investigation in response to information that American citizens were among passengers on the plane, according to Kiškis.

"Naturally, since they probably have information that their citizens were among the passengers, the country makes its own decision on whether to launch an investigation or not," he said.

Kiškis said that Vilnius Airport received an alleged letter on a bomb placed on the plane, which proved to be false information.

Information from Belarus

A response from Belarus was also received via the Interpol channel on Thursday, he said.

"It is very short and says that the plane landed in Minsk and that five passengers were taken off the plane and stayed in Minsk, including Roman Protasevich who [...] was detained as part of a pre-trial investigation being carried out by Belarusian law enforcement," Kiškis said.

Both Ivanauskas and Kiškis confirmed that a legal assistance request will be sent to Belarus over the upcoming days.

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