Wanted criminal leaves after spending nearly two months at Delhi airport

Delhi Airport

Edgard Ziebat is not your regular tourist. He is a wanted criminal in his home country of Germany and had landed in New Delhi on March 18 from Vietnam. That’s where his luck ran out.

He was looking to get to Turkey, but India ended up cancelling all flights to that country on the same day. Few days later, India suspended all international flights as the coronavirus pandemic was gathering pace.

So, there he was, stuck at the transit area of the Indira Gandhi International airport with nowhere to go. When airport authorities contacted the German embassy, they refused to take his custody because of his criminal records in Germany and as a result, India too denied him a visa.

For the next 54 days, the 40-year-old Ziebat was left to languish at the airport before finally leaving for Amsterdam on Tuesday, after KLM allowed him to board a flight.

“The foreign national decided to book himself on a KLM flight to Amsterdam and departed early morning of May 12,” a Delhi airport spokesperson said.

It’s difficult to do a vacation at an airport. But Ziebat did exactly that. After a week in the transit area, with four other stranded passengers who arrived in Delhi on different dates — two from Sri Lanka and one each from the Maldives and the Philippines — airport authorities alerted their respective embassies. While others were facilitated by their respective embassies and were quarantined, the German embassy informed the Indian Bureau of Immigration that Ziebat has several cases of assault and other crimes registered against him and that they won’t take his custody given that he is in a foreign land, The Hindustan Times (HT) said in a report.

He spent his days reading magazines and newspapers, talking to his friends and family over the phone, eating at some of the fast-food outlets still in operation within the terminal, interacting with housekeeping and security staff, taking walks within the transit area, and using the airport’s washrooms and toilets.

The airport treated him good. He was given a recliner, mosquito net, toothpaste and food.

About a week ago, attempts were made to accommodate him on a relief flight to Ankara (Turkey) but Turkish authorities turned down the proposal stating that the flight was only for Turkish nationals or for their permanent residents.

But now he is gone – a tourist like none other.