Polish prosecutors to investigate Ryanair flight diversion

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A Ryanair aircraft, which was carrying Belarusian opposition blogger and activist Roman Protasevich and diverted to Belarus, where authorities detained him, lands at Vilnius Airport in Vilnius, Lithuania May 23, 2021. REUTERS/Andrius Sytas

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WARSAW, May 24 (Reuters) - Poland's prosecutor general has ordered an investigation into the forced landing of a Ryanair (RYA.I) plane in Minsk, a spokesman said on Monday.

In what some EU leaders called a hijacking, the passenger plane flying from Athens to Lithuania on Sunday was diverted to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, escorted by a MiG-29 fighter jet. On landing, authorities took dissident journalist Roman Protasevich into custody. read more

"The prosecutor general has ordered an investigation into the landing of a Ryanair plane in Minsk. Most probably the investigation will also involve a number of steps at the international level," the prosecutor's office spokesman told Reuters.

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The plane was registered in Poland and so the case falls under Polish jurisdiction, deputy foreign minister Pawel Jablonski said.

"We expect that the European Union's reaction will be very strong and immediate," Jablonski told Reuters as EU leaders are expected to discuss additional sanctions against Belarus at a summit starting in Brussels later on Monday.

Separately, a private radio RMF, quoting unnamed sources, said the Polish government plans to order its national airline LOT to stop using Belarusian airspace. The government spokesman was not immediately available to comment.

A LOT spokesman said the airline is considering changing routes of flights over Belarus, including routes to Moscow and Minsk, but no decisions have been made yet.

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Reporting by Alicja Ptak, writing by Agnieszka Barteczko, editing by Giles Elgood

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