Kazakh diplomat attempts to hijack plane and fly to Libya

A Kazakh diplomat was detained in Rome after trying to hijack a plane and force it to fly to Libyan capital Tripoli. A flight attendant was lightly wounded in the incident. Colleagues speculate that he was suffering from a nervous breakdown.

Valery Tolmachev serves as an advisor to Kazakhstan’s envoy to UNESCO. On Sunday evening he took an Alitalia airline flight from Paris to Rome. While en route he took a flight attendant hostage using a nail file (other sources say manicure scissors or even a small Swiss Army knife), demanding that the vehicle goes to Tripoli. However he was overpowered and sedated by crewmembers. After the airplane landed in Rome, the man was taken into Italian police custody.

The 48-year-old diplomat may have had a nervous breakdown, Olzhas Suleimanov, a Kazakh envoy to UNDESCO told the media, stressing that he had never noticed “any desire to go to Tripoli or any interest in Gaddafi” from Tolmachev. Sunday’s escapade came out of the blue for the man’s colleagues, Suleimanov added.

Tolmachev has been serving in Kazakh foreign ministry since 1986. He lives is Paris with his wife and two children.

The ministry is now going through official channels to get in touch with their stray employee and decide on further proceedings, a ministerial spokesman said on Monday.