Poland seeks international investigation into Ryanair incident

Radek Pietruszka/PAP

Poland wants to turn the investigation into the forced landing of the Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius by the Belarusian authorities into an international case, Polish Justice Minister and Prosecutor General Zbigniew Ziobro has said.

On Sunday, Belarus used the pretext of a bogus bomb threat to force the aircraft to land in Minsk. Once on the ground, Belarusian security forces arrested a leading opposition activist and his girlfriend.

Ziobro on Monday ordered an investigation into the incident owing to the fact the aircraft involved was registered in Poland. The Polish inquiry is based on the alleged "use of deception and threats to take control of an aircraft and the detention of its passengers."

"This investigation is being carried out, but we are also conducting strenuous activities... aimed at giving this investigation an international scope," he told a press conference on Wednesday.

He said that the Criminal Procedure Code allows for such a move and added that discussions are currently underway, without giving further details.

Mirroring widespread international outrage over the incident, the Polish authorities have accused Minsk of violating international law, committing piracy and "state terrorism" by "hijacking the plane."

Roman Protasevich, the man arrested, is a co-founder of the Telegram messaging app's Nexta channel, which Belarus last year classified as an extremist organisation after it was used to help organise major protests against Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarusian president.