The two Libyan hijackers who held 116 people on board a passenger plane last month have not requested asylum, and no extradition request has come from the Libyan government.

The Office of the Prime Minister confirmed yesterday that the hijackers, Moussa Saha and Ali Ahmed Saleh, both in their 20s, had made no official request for asylum or humanitarian protection status in Malta, despite international media speculation that this had been their motive.

The Afriqiyah Airways A320 landed in Malta after it was hijacked in Libyan airspace.

Communicating with them proved close to impossible

A total of 111 passengers – 82 men, 28 women and an infant – and six crew members were on board. The plane landed in Malta at 11.32am on December 23. The passengers, believed to be Libyan, were released unharmed that day.

The plane was on an internal flight from Sebha to Tripoli when it was diverted by the two hijackers, who threatened to blow it up. They were later found to have been carrying fake weapons.

Sources said the two men were from south Libya and spoke regional Arabic dialect. Communicating with them in standard Arabic proved close to impossible. The men’s own legal representatives also said they were having difficulty getting any information out of them.

Shadow justice minister Jason Azzopardi, co-representing one of the two, said he had barely managed to communicate with him.

The men were arraigned on Christmas Day. They face charges including hijacking, possession of imitation weapons, using violence on the flight, holding people against their will, making threats of violence and attempting to cause financial or economic instability for a government or international institution.

They could face life imprisonment if convicted of hijacking. The court case will continue tomorrow.

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