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May 21, 2019
Cyprus Mail
Cyprus

Court rejects UK professor’s testimony in hijacker case

Egyptian Seif Eldin Mustafa

Nicosia District Court on Thursday refused to hear evidence from a Cambridge University professor in defence of Seif Eddin Mustafa, the Egyptian hijacker fighting an extradition request by his country.

Judge Dona Constantinou ruled that Emile George Howard Joffe’s evidence was inadmissible because his expertise was not specific to Egypt’s current domestic situation.

State prosecutor Eleni Loizidou argued that a report Joffe prepared in which he concludes that extraditing hijacker Mustafa would put him at risk of torture or death, was biased.

Joffe told the court he has submitted dozens of reports on asylum cases involving Egyptians for British courts.

Mustafa claims he hijacked a domestic EgyptAir flight in March and diverted it to Cyprus to highlight the human rights abuses of the current Egyptian regime under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

The judge agreed with the state prosecution’s argument that Joffe could not be accepted as an independent expert witness on Egypt.

Taking the stand, the British professor conceded he had not personally visited Egypt since 2010. The court also heard that Joffe academic background is in chemistry and that he has conducted research into the political situation in Algeria, not Egypt.

Mustafa claims he will be ill-treated – or worse – if returned to his home country.

Having dismissed Joffe’s testimony, the judge gave the defence until September 21 to present another expert witness on human rights violations in Egypt.

The court set the next two hearings for September 21 and 23. The judge instructed that unless the defence presents an expert witness on those dates, those hearings will be used for the closing arguments.

None of the passengers and crew were harmed in the March 29 hijack. Eighty-one people, which included 21 foreigners and 15 crew were released after a six-hour standoff aboard the diverted Airbus 320 Alexandria-to-Cairo flight.

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