Iceland asylum protestors could be charged with hijacking

An Icelandair jet at KEF.

An Icelandair jet at KEF. Photo: Iceland Monitor/Sigurður Bogi Sævarsson

Two Icelandic women who staged a protest on board an Icelandair jet against the deportation of a Nigerian asylum seeker could face charges of hijacking and a minimum two-year prison sentence.

The women were arrested at Keflavík International Airport (KEF) last Thursday after attempting to prevent the departure of an Icelandair flight to Stockholm. Nigerian asylum seeker Eze Okafor – who had been living in Iceland for four years – was on board.

The two members of No Borders Iceland urged other passengers on the jet to stand up so as to prevent the flight from departing. They were removed from the aircraft by police, handcuffed and arrested.

During police interrogation later that day, they were read a list of the various criminal charges they may potentially be facing – ranging from failure to obey police orders to “using unlawful methods to take control of an aircraft”.

The minimum sentence for the latter offence is two years’ imprisonment.

Eze Okafor fled persecution from the Boko Haram terrorist organisation ...

Eze Okafor fled persecution from the Boko Haram terrorist organisation in Nigeria.

The two women – both Icelandic – claim to have been handled roughly by police and both sought medical certificates detailing their injuries after they were released. The police investigation into the incident is still ongoing.

In the meantime, No Borders Iceland has requested a meeting with Home Affairs Minister Ólöf Nordal to discuss Okafor’s case. “It unacceptable for the Minister not to take responsibility for the actions of agencies under her ministry,” says No Borders Iceland member Hjalti Hrafn Hafþórsson.

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