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Cyprus

Egyptair hijacker to appeal extradition

File photo: Egyptian Seif Eldin Mustafa

The appeal to the extradition of an Egyptian man, who last March hijacked a domestic Egyptair flight, wearing a fake suicide belt and engaging in a dramatic standoff with authorities at Larnaca airport, was rescheduled on Friday for December 1.

The hearing of the appeal of Seif Eldin Mustafa at the supreme court was requested by his new lawyer Nikoletta Charalambidou.

Nicosia District Court approved Mustafa’s extradition request to Egypt on the grounds that “as opposed to the arguments the defence raised, he was not requested for his political beliefs or attitudes but for the criminal offence of hijacking, which he admitted to having committed.”

Mustafa’s former lawyer, Robert Vrachimis said after reading the decision of the judge that he had received instructions from his client to appeal the first instance verdict.

In statements made after the procedure, Charalambidou said that the appeal “is based mainly on the fact that if extradited to Egypt he is in danger of being subjected to torture, inhuman and degrading treatment for something that the first instance court did not examine,” because she said, they did not accept the relevant evidence produced to back it, as they considered the main witness as not being an expert.

In August, the Nicosia court refused to hear evidence from Cambridge University professor Emile George Howard Joffe in Mustafa’s defence, ruling that the evidence was inadmissible because Joffe’s expertise was not specific to Egypt’s current domestic situation.

Charalambidou said that the relevant expert’s report had been filed in the supreme court, and if necessary would come in person to give evidence relating to the conditions prevailing in Egypt.

She also said that the court has the obligation to consider the possibility of Mustafa’s human rights being violated if he was to be extradited to Egypt.

Charalambidou said assurances received by the Cyprus government from Egypt that he would not suffer any violations of human rights and that he would have the right to a fair trial under international law and the jurisprudence of the European human rights court is not enough to shake off the responsibility of the state to investigate the possibility.

The defence lawyer said she had sent a letter to both the director of the central prisons and the ombudsman denouncing the detention conditions of her client.

She maintained that about ten days ago Mustafa wounded himself in the neck using a blade in protest for not being allowed to go to the toilet. She added that since September, he was not being held with other prisoners but in the guardhouse of the prison where he slept on the floor on a plastic mattress, with no access to a bathroom and toilet.

Charalambidou concluded that Mustafa was suffering from lack of sleep as the lights in the room were permanently lit depriving him of sleep.

None of the passengers and crew were harmed in the March 29 hijack. Eighty-one people, including 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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