The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council reviewed the final report on the diversion of Ryanair flight FR4978 by Belarus and determined more investigation is needed. Council members pointed to the lapses in the data provided by the Lukashenko regime.
“The Council expressed concern at the gaps in information provided by Belarus and the inconsistencies contained in the evidence available at the time of the investigation in relation to crucial aspects of the factual reconstruction of the events, and highlighted that the bomb threat against FR4978 was deliberately false and had endangered the safety of an aircraft in flight,” it said in a statement.
Therefore, the Council demanded that the investigation continue in order to bring the missing elements in the narrative to light.
On May 23, 2021, Ryanair flight FR4978 from Athens to Vilnius was diverted to Minsk, following an alleged bomb threat. The aircraft, a Boeing 737 registered SP-RSM, was flying above Belarusian territory and nearing the Lithuanian border when it was intercepted by an armed Belarusian MiG -29 fighter jet. The flight suddenly changed course east towards Minsk, the capital city of Belarus, where it landed.
Upon landing in Minsk (MSQ), two passengers identified as opposition journalist Roman Protasevich and his partner, Sofia Sapega, were arrested by the KGB, the Belarusian security services. Consequently, the European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada imposed new economic sanctions on Belarus as well as individual sanctions against several figures of the Lukashenko regime.
Days after the fact-finding report was made available to ICAO member states in January 2022, federal prosecutors in New York charged four Belarusian officials with piracy.