VALLETTA (Reuters) - A Maltese court said on Sunday it had granted bail to one of two men arrested for hijacking in 2016 after a passenger plane was forced to land in Malta, saying he had spent the maximum time allowed in prison without being tried.
Soko Moussa Shaha Ali and an accomplice were arrested for hijacking an Afriqiyah Airlines Airbus 320 just before Christmas in 2016, diverting it from its Libyan destination to Malta.
The hijackers surrendered after releasing the 109 passengers and seven crew members on board. They had threatened to blow up the plane, but their weapons later turned out to be fake. The two men have been awaiting trial ever since.
Soko Moussa’s lawyer argued that his client was entitled to release from arrest in terms of law, since the maximum term of 30 months preventive arrest envisaged by law had run its course.
The court granted Soko Moussa bail on condition he supply it with a fixed address in Malta, and that he not leave the island because he still must be tried for the hijacking.
Reporting by Chris Scicluna in Valletta, editing by Steve Scherer and David Evans