15 Jul 2010

Guilty plea by airline hijacker

8:44 am on 15 July 2010

A woman accused of hijacking an Air New Zealand domestic flight two years ago has pleaded guilty to the charge.

Somali-born Asha Abdille, 35, was scheduled to go to trial in August, but unexpectedly pleaded guilty in the High Court in Christchurch on Wednesday to the charge of hijacking.

Abdille was remanded to a psychiatric facility in Christchurch and will be sentenced on 27 August.

The Crown has agreed to drop all other charges against her. That includes charges of stabbing the pilots.

Abdille was arrested in February 2008 after the incident on an Air New Zealand flight between Blenheim and Christchurch. Two pilots were stabbed and a passenger was injured.

The flight landed safely after one of the pilots overpowered the woman.

The pilots later received international bravery awards for their efforts to keep their passengers safe.