Career centre

Yemeni hijacker jailed for 15 years

A Yemeni man has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for last month's hijacking of a plane carrying 91 people, including the US ambassador to Yemen.

Jaber Yehia Ali Sattar, who was also ordered to pay £50,000 in compensation to Yemenia Airlines, expressed his relief but said he would appeal against the verdict.

Sattar hijacked the Yemenia Boeing 727 on January 23 just after it took off from Sana'a on a domestic flight to the southern city of Taiz. He was charged with kidnapping, endangering the safety of passengers, forging official documents and carrying unlicensed weapons.

"I was expecting the death sentence. ... Thank God for this verdict," a handcuffed Sattar said before Yemeni security led him out of the court in Sana'a. All sessions of the open trial were conducted amid tight security.

The US ambassador Barbara Bodine, other embassy staff and Abdulwahab Al Hajjri, Yemen's ambassador to Washington, were among the passengers aboard the Yemenia flight.

US officials have said it appears the hijacker was unaware the diplomats were aboard.

The plane landed in the nearby Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti, where Sattar was overpowered by crew members. There were no injuries. He was later extradited to Yemen.

Sattar said he was unaware that the US ambassador was on board the flight and that he only wanted to go to Iraq.

"It was stupid of me. I did it because I had had enough of life. ... I did not want to stay on and live in Yemen," he added.