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Hijacker’s lawyer questions legitimacy of Egyptian government

File photo: Mustafa being taken to court in Larnaca

A lawyer fighting the extradition of the man who hijacked a domestic EgyptAir flight three months ago, diverting it to Larnaca, has questioned the legitimacy of the Egyptian government, describing it as a dictatorship.

Roberto Vrahimis told Nicosia district court that countless verbal and written assurance given by the Egyptian government that his 59-year-old client, Seif Eddin Mustafa, would get a fair trial, with respect to his human rights were “only words” from an “unelected dictatorship.”

He was cross examining Yioulika Hadjiprodromou, an official from the Justice ministry who said that the Cypriot authorities were “fully satisfied with the assurances they had received from Cairo that Mustafa would be treated fairly and his human rights respected.”

The defendant, who hijacked the plane after take-off from Alexandria on March 29 using a false bomb belt, shook his head and smiled ironically on hearing the translation of Hadjiprodromou’s statement.

Hadjiprodromou reiterated in her statement and again during cross-examination that she had received repeated written and oral statements that Mustafa would receive a fair trial with respect to all human rights and explained that on April 20 there was a meeting between officials of the Ministry of Justice, the Legal Service and their Egyptian counterparts requesting clarification from the authorities in Cairo.

Vrahimis told the court that Egypt has no respect for human rights and his clients would not receive a fair trial if the judge approved the extradition order.

The counsel of the Republic objected to the question submitted by Vrahimis regarding whether Mustafa can be assured a fair trial and with his human rights respected by the government of Egypt, which had not been legally elected by the Egyptians and which he described as dictatorial.

The council said bringing a complaint invoked jurisprudence of the Supreme Court that there is in respect of transnational agreements. He said that even raising the question is unacceptable and not in the public interest.

Cyprus has an agreement with Egypt for international cooperation and the extradition fugitives which was ratified and signed into law in 1996.

Cyprus does not extradite suspects to countries where they may face the death penalty.

The court was adjourned till Monday.

Mustafa will remain in custody at the central prisons until then.

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