Hamburg airport hostage-taker gives himself up
November 5, 2023 10:37 PM
An armed father who took his four-year-old daughter hostage, forcing the suspension of flights at Hamburg airport, gave himself up "without resistance" on Sunday after hours of negotiations, German police said.
The 35-year-old Turkish man had barricaded himself and the child in his car at the foot of a Turkish Airlines plane on Saturday evening, demanding to be allowed on board after a custody dispute with the mother.
He had rammed his car through the security area onto the apron where planes are parked, firing two shots in the air and throwing two burning bottles out of the vehicle, police said.
"The hostage-taking has ended," local police posted on X, formerly Twitter, on Sunday.
"The man has left his car with his daughter and been taken for questioning by security forces without resistance," it said, adding the child "seems in good health".
Police had brought psychologists and teams of negotiators as well as rapid response units to the airport in northern Germany.
Authorities said a dispute over custody of the child was believed to be behind the incident, with the wife of the driver placing an emergency call alerting police to the abduction of her child.
Police said the man was suffering from psychological troubles and kidnapped the daughter at the mother's home in the nearby town of Stade on Saturday before going to Hamburg airport.
They described lengthy negotiations which had taken place in Turkish and announced the father was believed to be "in possession of a loaded weapon and perhaps explosives".
The man had at first demanded to be allowed to fly to Turkey with his daughter.
During the negotiations, police said that the girl appeared to be physically well, but would not comment on her mental state.
The father had already been investigated after kidnapping his daughter in March 2022 and taking her to Turkey. The mother recovered her there, according to the police.
- 'Amateurish' security -
Passengers aboard the Turkish Airlines plane and the rest of the airport were safely evacuated.
"It's annoying. The important thing is that nothing happened to us," passenger Roland Kaminski told German television.
"The hotels are all full. Now we're supposed to find beds here somehow."
Air traffic remained suspended by late Sunday afternoon, affecting dozens of flights and thousands of passengers.
On Saturday evening, 17 flights scheduled to land in Hamburg were diverted.
The incident has raised further questions about the airport's security given the ease with which the man forced his way onto the tarmac.
In July, environmental activists protesting against pollution caused by planes blocked traffic at the airport for several hours after bursting in on bicycles.
"How is it possible that a father in his Audi can simply plough through a barrier and gain access to a high-security zone?," Heinrich Grosbongardt, a well-known air traffic expert in Germany, wrote in Der Spiegel magazine.
Heiko Teggatz, a representative of the German police union, said it was "hard to understand" that concrete blocks were used to protect Christmas markets while airports "were made safe in an amateurish way".