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Attempted Hijacker Is Adviser To Kazakh Envoy To UNESCO

Italian police have arrested an adviser to Kazakhstan's ambassador to UNESCO after he attempted to hijack a Paris-to-Rome Alitalia flight, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Valery Tolmachev was arrested by Italian authorities after the plane landed in Rome on April 24. Tolmachev reportedly attacked a stewardess during the flight and held a small knife or nail file to her neck, demanding the plane be flown to Libya.

But other flight attendants and some passengers overwhelmed Tolmachev and subdued him until the plane landed, about 35 minutes later.

Olzhas Suleimenov, Kazakhstan's ambassador to UNESCO in Paris, told RFE/RL that Tolmachev is his adviser. He described Tolmachev as "a very experienced and professional staff member."

Suleimenov said Tolmachev wasn't on a business trip and no one knows why he was flying to Rome. He said that Tolmachev has recently been depressed about some health problems.

Tolmachev, 48, is divorced with two daughters.