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Hijacker pleads against extradition to Egypt

Egyptian Seif Eldin Mustafa

Seif Eldin Mustafa, the hijacker of an Egyptair plane that was diverted to Larnaca in late March, pleaded with a judge on Thursday to deny the Egyptian government’s request to have him extradited to his home country.

Reading out a 20-page statement in Arabic, translated simultaneously in the courtroom, Mustafa said a decision to extradite him “to the Egyptian military regime” would send the message that “might makes right.”

Mustafa, 59, claimed he would be tortured and murdered by the Egyptian security establishment were he to be handed over.

He went on to describe his hijacking as a “peaceful” action and a “act of cunning” aimed at exposing the realities of “the bloody coup before its critics, who would be tortured to death, as in the case of Giulio Regeni.”

It’s understood he was referring to the Italian Cambridge University graduate who was abducted and tortured to death in Egypt in February of this year.

Mustafa also expressed dismay at a remark made shortly after the hijacking by Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, who described the Egyptian as mentally unstable.

During a prior hearing for the extradition request, the court heard how Mustafa made contradictory statements in the interview part of his asylum bid.

His request to be granted international protection as a refugee was rejected on the grounds that, though he was given the benefit of the doubt on his fear of persecution grounds, the severity of the offences his extradition request was based on were too serious to be overlooked.

While originally claiming the reason he hijacked the aircraft was to see his ex-wife, he then demanded the release of some 63 women being held by the Egyptian authorities.

The court also heard Mustafa did not immediately ask for asylum following the conclusion of the hijack but waited until he was informed of the Egyptian extradition request.

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