27 Aug 2010

Woman who hijacked Air NZ plane jailed 9 years

7:12 pm on 27 August 2010

A woman who hijacked an Air New Zealand plane has been jailed for nine years.

Asha Ali Abdille was arrested after two pilots were stabbed and a passenger injured on a flight from Blenheim to Christchurch on 8 February 2008.

The 36-year-old Somali-born refugee had taken knives onto the small plane, which was forced to make an emergency landing in Christchurch.

Her lawyer Liz Bulger told Checkpoint her client was shocked by the length of the sentence, but was calm when she appeared in the High Court in Christchurch on Friday.

In a statement read to the court, Abdille said she hijacked the 19-seater plane because she wanted to leave New Zealand, to to Australia and get back to Somalia from there.

Ms Bulger says it is too early to talk about any possibility of an appeal.