Phone call ends Spanish hijack

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The Independent Online
"I GOT my wires crossed," said Javier Gomez, explaining why he had hijacked a Boeing 727 from Seville to Barcelona yesterday with 131 people on board.

Brandishing a remote- control "zapper", the 40-year-old Sevillian threatened to detonate a remote-control bomb unless the pilot took the aircraft to Tel Aviv. He forced the plane to land in Valencia for refuelling.

Valencia airport was closed all morning. The government set up an emergency cabinet and the Interior Minister, Jaime Mayor Oreja, rushed to the scene. But after a four-hour stand-off, Mr Gomez, who is undergoing treatment for paranoid schizophrenia and has a police record, gave himself up and all those on board the Iberia aircraft were freed.

The crisis ended when Mr Gomez was persuaded to take a mobile telephone call from his psychiatrist, Ildefonso Mateo. "After talking to him for four minutes, he softened and the situation was resolved," Dr Mateo later told Spanish television. Among the passengers was the Mayor of Seville, Soledad Becerril, en route to Lucerne in Switzerland.

The Israeli ambassador to Spain, Ehud Gol, said Mr Gomez demanded to fly to Tel Aviv. The Israeli authorities had said they would not allow the plane to land on their territory.