Cyprus Mail

Hijacker claims prison mistreatment, brings drugs to court as ‘proof of pressure’

Kisa's Doros Polycarpou

An Egyptian man fighting extradition for hijacking an EgyptAir flight that was diverted to Larnaca who claimed Wednesday he had his teeth knocked out in front of wardens and was pressured to get involved with drugs, came to court with a paper wrap of cannabis in his possession.

Following a delay by police to produce Seif Eldin Mustafa at the hearing in Nicosia court, it was revealed that he had showm officers the drug saying it was acquired in prison.

Egyptian Seif Eldin Mustafa
Egyptian Seif Eldin Mustafa

Officers present wanted the drugs squad, who had been informed, to come and take a statement.

But Judge Dona Constantinou demanded the suspect be brought before the court and following an adjournment due to Mustafa’s lawyer, Roberto Vrahimis not being able to attend, the Cyprus Mail spoke to Kisa’s Doros Polycarpou, who explained what had happened.

“Mustafa says he has been beaten in the presence of prison officers and that people within the institution have tried to get him involved with drugs. He had written down everything he was put through in order to convey it to his lawyer, but says he was not allowed to bring the document with him, with guards also refusing to carry it for him,” Polycarpou said.

“He brought the drugs with him to give the police as he wants to make a statement concerning the serious drug problem he believes exists within the prison.”

“Mustafa believes he is being put under pressure to drop his resistance to being extradited. He has been put in solitary confinement twice, once for a month, after being told it was for six days, and again more recently.”

Polycarpou said he was given the information by Mustafa in the presence of court officials and police including a higher ranking officer and that the drug squad were called in order for a statement be taken. The cannabis was also shown to the police in his presence.

Polycarpou believes that systematic pressure is being put on the Egyptian to break his spirit in order he give up defending his extradition.

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.

The defence are fighting extradition on human rights grounds, saying Mustafa may be tortured or killed if he is sent back to Egypt, especially under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s regime.

The court last month refused testimony from Emile George Howard Joffe, a leading international relations expert at London Metropolitan University, saying it was inadmissible because his expertise was not specific to Egypt’s current domestic situation.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) in a statement issued Monday said it had received information that the Cairo Criminal Court ordered, September 17, the freezing of the assets of a number of human rights and civil society organisations on the grounds of their being funded from outside Egypt.

The observatory condemned the court decision, calling it the latest evidence of an increasing pattern of judicial harassment launched by the authorities in 2011 targeting civil society organisations and human rights defenders in Egypt.

Human Rights Watch’s 2016 country report on Egypt states that “the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms, an independent group, documented 47 deaths in custody between January and June”, and said in an October report that “209 detainees had died due to medical negligence since el-Sisi took office in June 2014.”

Amnesty International documented that in Egypt “detainees faced torture and other ill-treatment. Courts handed down hundreds of death sentences and lengthy prison sentences after grossly unfair mass trials. There was a critical lack of accountability; most human rights violations were committed with impunity. Women and members of religious minorities were subject to discrimination and inadequately protected against violence. People were arrested and tried on charges of “debauchery” for their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The army forcibly evicted communities from their homes along the border with Gaza. Executions were carried out following grossly unfair trials.”

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