Cyprus extradites Egyptian hijacker who dropped legal fight

In this image taken in April 22, 2016, EgyptAir plane hijacking suspect Seif Eddin Mustafa, center, with a t-shirt reading “Cici Killer,” is escorted by Cyprus police officers as he arrives in a court in capital Nicosia, Cyprus. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias, File)
Updated 20 August 2018
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Cyprus extradites Egyptian hijacker who dropped legal fight

  • Police said Seif Eddin Mustafa, escorted by Egyptian authorities, boarded an EgyptAir flight to Cairo on Saturday evening
  • Seif Eddin Mustafa hijacked the EgyptAir flight in March 2016 using a fake suicide belt and diverted it to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus

NICOSIA: An Egyptian man who hijacked a domestic EgyptAir flight in 2016 and ordered it to land in Cyprus has been extradited to his homeland after giving up a drawn-out legal fight, authorities said Sunday.
Seif Eddin Mustafa was transferred to Egyptian custody and flown back to Egypt late Saturday, where prosecutors are investigating the incident. Cyprus Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou told The Associated Press that Mustafa’s extradition went ahead after he dropped a three-year court battle to avoid extradition.
Mustafa had challenged extradition on the grounds that he could face torture or an unfair trial in Egypt.
Mustafa hijacked the EgyptAir flight in March 2016 using a fake suicide belt and diverted it to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. A six-hour standoff with Cypriot authorities on the tarmac of Cyprus’ Larnaca airport ended peacefully after all 72 passengers and crew were released and Mustafa was arrested.
Mustafa told a Cypriot court that he meant no harm to anyone. He said he was trying to expose what he called the “fascist regime” of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and to help secure the release of 63 female dissidents being held in Egyptian prisons.
But prosecutors said Mustafa admitted in a written statement to police that he only carried out the hijacking in order to reunite with his Cypriot family, from whom he had been estranged for 24 years. Mustafa dismissed the written statement as “purposeful misinformation” by the Cypriot and Egyptian governments put out to discredit him.
Doros Polycarpou, with the migrant support group KISA that assisted Mustafa, told the AP that the 62-year-old decided of his own accord to return to Egypt and face prosecution there, despite fears that he may be tortured. Egypt and Cyprus have a 1996 extradition treaty.
Polycarpou said Mustafa told his legal team he was willing “to take the risk” of suffering mistreatment at the hands of Egyptian authorities because he could “no longer take” his holding conditions in Cyprus’ prison complex.
He said Mustafa had complained that he was being held in “isolation” and put under “psychological strain” because authorities kept him away from the prison’s general population.
Last year, the European Court of Human Rights blocked Cyprus from extraditing Mustafa until it could rule on whether doing so would violate its prohibition on returning individuals to countries where they may face torture or inhuman treatment.
Cyprus’ Justice Ministry said Sunday that Mustafa had fired his lawyer and expressed a wish to return to Egypt. It added that Egyptian authorities gave assurances that Mustafa would “face legal proceedings commensurate with international standards.”


Netanyahu defends Gaza ceasefire after Israeli criticism

Updated 31 min 30 sec ago
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Netanyahu defends Gaza ceasefire after Israeli criticism

  • ‘Our enemies begged for a ceasefire and they knew very well why’
  • The deal has provoked criticism from within Netanyahu’s government

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday defended his decision to accept a ceasefire after the worst escalation with Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip since a 2014 war.
“In times of emergency, when making decisions crucial to security, the public can’t always be privy to the considerations that must be hidden from the enemy,” he said at a ceremony in honor of Israel’s founding father David Ben-Gurion.
“Our enemies begged for a ceasefire and they knew very well why.”
The deal has provoked criticism from within Netanyahu’s government as well as from Israelis who live near the Gaza Strip and want further action against its Islamist rulers Hamas.