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Justice ministry defends Egypt’s extradition request for hijacker (Updated)

Egyptian Seif Eldin Mustafa

The captain and first officer of the Egyptian Airlines aircraft that was hijacked on March 29, 2016, testified that a passenger threatened to set off explosives attached to his belt in protest over the policies of the Egyptian government, the court heard on Monday.
Their testimony was despatched by Egyptian authorities along with the request for Seif Eldin Mustafa’s extradition, and was cited by justice ministry official Yioulika Hadjiprodromou, who testified that Mustafa’s extradition is not being sought for his political persecution, but for criminal offences.
Hadjiprodromou told the court that, in the context of bilateral agreements, the assurances given by each of the signatory governments must be respected and accepted at face value, adding that the Egyptian authorities issued assurances that Mustafa will be tried fairly and his human rights will be fully respected.
Mustafa’s lawyer Roberto Vrahimis told Nicosia district court that both the pilot and co-pilot of the EgyptAir flight gave statements supporting Egypt’s extradition request saying his client had threatened to destroy the plane with an imitation suicide belt made of mobile phone cases because he “opposed Egyptian government policies”.
At the time of the hijack, Mustafa’s motivation was reported to be his desire to meet up with his ex-wife, Marina, from Oroklini. He had originally explained to officers after his arrest that his need to see his family was why he had taken such drastic action.
None of the passengers and crew was harmed in the hijack. Eighty-one people, which included 21 foreigners and 15 crew were released after a six-hour standoff aboard the Airbus 320 Alexandria-to-Cairo flight which was diverted to Larnaca airport.
Vrahimis told the court that the 1996 Cyprus-Egypt treaty prohibited the extradition as it was for political reasons and that he would not receive a fair trial, and wouldl face torture or execution because of his political beliefs.
State witness Hadjiprodromou, the justice ministry’s official in charge of extradition requests, reiterated that Egypt’s extradition request had nothing to do with politics and repeated that Egypt had given countless verbal and written assurances that Mustafa would receive a fair trial with full respect of his human rights, and that the the charges he was answering to did not warrant the death penalty which still exists in Egypt.

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