Hijacked bus: Boy hero who saved children to be granted Italian citizenship

26 March 2019, 16:14 | Updated: 26 March 2019, 18:28

A 13-year-old boy hailed as a hero for helping saving his classmates when they had been abducted by a bus driver will be granted Italian citizenship.

Ramy Shehata, who was born in Italy to Egyptian parents, managed to make a phone call to his father to alert him of the bus hijacking on the outskirts of Milan last week.

Ramy hid his phone while others were confiscated, and called his father, speaking in Arabic and pretending he was praying.

The man then called police, who were able to free the 51 children before the bus was set on fire. No child was hurt.

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini announced he would grant Ramy the Italian citizenship during a TV show.

"Yes to citizenship for Ramy because it's as if he were my son and he showed he understood the values of this country," Mr Salvini was quoted as saying by the Italian news agency ANSA.

"For acts of skill or courage the laws can be overcome."

Ramy was born in Italy four years after his father immigrated there from Egypt.

During the hijacking, Ramy was helped by another immigrant, classmate Adam el Hamami, who is from Morocco. They have both since been hailed as heroes.

Luigi Di Maio, the leader of Italy's 5-Star movement, had called for Ramy to be given citizenship last week, but Mr Salvini, who leads the anti-immigrant League party, had initially appeared reluctant.

Mr Salvini had initially suggested there was a problem with the immigration application, citing "criminal record" issues within the family.

It has since been reported that this referred to accusations levelled against Ramy's father Khaled Shehata of burglary, breaking migration laws and falsely claiming to be a public official. He was never convicted.

However the interior ministry did not comment on this, or on whether Adam would be in line for citizenship.

After hearing the news, Mr Shahata said his son had "jumped for joy, he didn't expect it.

"Ramy was a hero and Italy recognised him. I really appreciated the words of Salvini who considered him as his son."

Khalid el Hamami, Adam's father, said his son should also be granted the Italian passport.

"Adam is a sensitive boy and he was very upset that everyone, even at school, talks about his partner but not him," he said.

Both boys say they want to become part of Italy's Carabinieri police when they grow up.

According to Italian media, Ramy and his father will meet Mr Salvini in Rome tomorrow.

The man accused of hijacking the bus is an Italian citizen of Senegalese origin, 47-year-old Ousseynou Sy. He allegedly threatened the passengers, telling them that "no one would survive today".

The suspect claimed the kidnapping was meant to draw attention to migrant deaths in the Mediterranean Sea.