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Cuban plane hijacking suspect held

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  • Walter Lippmann
    Cuban plane hijacking suspect held 32 on board plane hijacked from Cuba to Key West Tuesday, April 1, 2003 Posted: 1907 GMT ( 3:07 AM HKT) KEY WEST, Florida
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 1, 2003
      Cuban plane hijacking suspect held
      32 on board plane hijacked from Cuba to Key West
      Tuesday, April 1, 2003 Posted: 1907 GMT ( 3:07 AM HKT)


      KEY WEST, Florida (CNN) -- A suspect, wearing a windbreaker
      with "America" stitched on the back, was taken into federal
      custody Tuesday shortly after a hijacked Cuban passenger
      plane landed at Key West, Florida, airport with 32
      passengers and crew on board, police said.

      Federal authorities are interviewing the passengers and crew
      at the airport before being turned them over to immigration
      officials, said Steve Torrence of the Key West police
      department. None appeared injured.

      The suspect was being held in Key West International
      Airport's federal customs building, where he was being
      questioned by federal authorities, he said.

      The suspect, described as about 25 years old, was reported
      to be carrying two hand grenades when he hijacked the plane
      after it left Nueva Gerona.

      The bomb squad from the Monroe County sheriff's department
      searched the plane after taking "two items" from the alleged
      hijacker, the police spokesman said.

      Those items were placed in a heavy metal box. The box will
      be X-rayed to determine whether "it was anything explosive,"
      Torrence said.

      There were three children in the group that landed in Key
      West, including a boy about 4 or 5 years old, whom the
      suspect carried in his arms as he left the plane.

      "I don't believe (the boy) was a hostage," Torrence said.
      "It looked like it was a family member."

      When he let the little boy down on the tarmac, the child
      grabbed the suspect's leg, he said. He then went into the
      arms of a woman.

      The plane had been forced to land at Havana's Jose Marti
      International Airport Monday evening because it did not have
      enough fuel to cross the Florida Strait to Florida, as the
      hijacker demanded.

      Negotiations there produced the release Tuesday morning of
      at least 26 passengers of the 46 people aboard, apparently
      in exchange for fuel. Food was also put on board before the
      departure.

      The 26 passengers were released Tuesday morning about three
      hours after a fuel tanker approached the plane to ref

      Cuban plane hijacking suspect held
      32 on board plane hijacked from Cuba to Key West
      Tuesday, April 1, 2003 Posted: 1907 GMT ( 3:07 AM HKT)


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