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Ireland to ask UN body to investigate Belarus grounding

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By Reuters
Ireland to ask UN body to investigate Belarus grounding
Ireland to ask UN body to investigate Belarus grounding   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021

DUBLIN – Ireland will call on the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization to conduct an impartial probe into the “forced landing” of a Ryanair jet in Minsk at a meeting of the council later on Thursday, its transport minister said.

International condemnation of the scrambling of a fighter jet and the use of what turned out to be a false bomb alert to divert the flight to Minsk and detain a dissident Belarusian journalist has focused mainly on accusations of state-sponsored hijacking and rights violations.

But Europe’s aviation regulator said on Wednesday that Belarus’s actions had also cast doubt on its ability to provide safe air navigation, and some international officials are pushing for an investigation close to the type seen when a plane crashes or something goes technically wrong.

“What we’ll be looking for is an investigation under Article 55e of the Convention of the Council (ICAO) and my understanding is that this would be the first such investigation,” Eamon Ryan said, speaking after a meeting of ministers at the OCED’s International Transport Forum, which agreed to condemn the “coercive, forced landing.”

Article 55e gives the council the power to “investigate, at the request of any contracting state, any situation which may appear to present avoidable obstacles to the development of international air navigation.”

Ryan said he would expect such an investigation to be turned around by approximately the end of June.

“We need a full probe, a thorough investigation,” he said. Ryan is to attend an urgent meeting of ICAO’s 36-member council, later on Thursday at a meeting that will also include government ministers from Poland, Lithuania and Belarus. Ryan will attend the meeting because Ryanair is registered in Ireland.