SEIF Eldin Mustafa, who is fighting extradition to his native Egypt for the hijacking of an internal flight in March, expressed on Friday his preference for a luxurious trial and imprisonment in Cyprus.
Mustafa expressed his desire to stand trial in Cyprus for committing the March 29 hijack of the EgyptAir flight during his cross-examination, describing the prisons here as “five star” compared to those in Egypt, which he ironically labelled “seven star where I will face torture.”
He told the Nicosia court he believed he would have a fair trial in Cyprus.
On his previous convictions for forgery, Mustafa said he forged and used fake passports as it was his only option, being under constant persecution. He rejected testimony he had given to police in which he had stated that he had committed the hijacking in order to see his ex-wife and children, saying he had signed it without reading it as he didn’t have his glasses. However, he trusted the Cypriot authorities as he believed they had no reason to lie to him. If that was his intention, he told the court, he would have bought a ticket.
Mustafa repeated his assertion that he committed the hijacking out of love for his country and his desire for its democratisation.
“You say you did the hijack so that 63 female prisoners are released,” the judge asked Mustafa.
He replied that this was not the only reason, and that the whole country faces problems, at all levels. He added that if the real reason was to see his wife, then he wouldn’t have on him papers with the names of the female prisoners.
His aim was to travel to Italy, he said, but that the fuel was not adequate, so he asked for refuelling of the plane.
He also told the court that what made him tick was the treatment of these women by the Egyptian authorities. He and the 63 women, he said, are members of the liberation movement Guards of the Nation, but which is not registered.
“If I go to Egypt, I’m not afraid of dying, but they will torture me to confess the actions of the organisation,” Mustafa told the court. He also expressed the conviction that Cyprus is extraditing him to Egypt due to natural gas interests.
The court asked him whether he felt that previous statements he had made – that he hijacked the plane because these 63 women were being hit and abused contrary to Egyptian customs – was also contrary to him admitting that he was hitting his ex-wife.
He replied that he only hit his ex-wife once and that was within his cultural values, as in Egypt, he said, when someone hits his wife, he is doing so because he loves her.
“I had hit my wife because she had taken her clothes off,” Mustafa told the court. He added that in Egypt, when a woman shows her breast or legs is considered to be an insult of morals.
When he was told that he had admitted during the interview at the asylum service that he used to hit her repeatedly, he said that it was because they loved each other and she was acting in a way to make him angry, “to make sure I loved her”.
When he was also told by court that he was sentenced in Cyprus and that he is listed as an illegal immigrant under eight different names, he asked what the problem was, as he was not intending to come to Cyprus.
He also rejected the fact that he was sentenced in Egypt in the past for theft, drug trade and forging documents, after the judge read his criminal records.
“The Egyptian government can do what they want, I am no thief, I’m not such a person, I don’t do these kind of things,” Mustafa said.
Additional reporting by Evie Andreou.