Cyprus Mail
Cyprus

Egyptian hijacker ‘was treated so badly’ he preferred extradition, Kisa says

File photo: Seif Eldin Mustafa

By Annette Chrysostomou and Evie Andreou

Migrant support group Kisa said Egyptian hijacker Seif Eldin Mustafa, 61 who was extradited to Egypt on Saturday had been treated so badly in custody he preferred what awaited him in Egypt.

In a statement, Kisa said it was it was due to the “inhuman and degrading treatment” he suffered in the central prison that he decided to withdraw all his applications before the Cyprus court and the European Court of Human Rights and fire his lawyer.

“I prefer to go back to Egypt where I will face physically torture and know what I have to deal with, rather than staying in Cyprus in block 10 of the central prison where there is psychological violence on a daily basis and there is no prospect of it ending,” he reportedly told Kisa.

Block 10, where he was held is the part of the prison where people with psychological and similar problems are detained, Kisa said.

The prisoner repeatedly filed complaints about his treatment after his arrest, saying it was punitive and resembled being kept in isolation.

The Nicosia district court in November 2017 approved Mustafa’s extradition to Egypt, rejecting his claims that if he were extradited he would be subjected to torture and not tried fairly.

He appealed this ruling, but the supreme court rejected the appeal.

Meanwhile, his request for political asylum was rejected by the Immigration service on grounds of having committed the criminal offence of hijacking a plane.

Kisa has long maintained that he should not be extradited to Egypt because of his fears.

In its statement, the NGO said it continues to hold the government responsible for the violation of Mustafa’s rights and insists the extradition to Egypt fundamentally threatens to violate his fundamental rights.

The Cyprus’ justice ministry announced on Sunday Seif Eldin Mustafa had been flown back to Egypt on Saturday and been handed over to local authorities.

“Having exhausted all legal remedies that could be used in court proceedings in Cyprus, Mustafa had appealed to the European Court of Human Rights through his lawyer three times, referring to the unsatisfactory conditions of his detention, which were rejected, as well as to the risk he would have been in if he was extradited to his own country,” the ministry announcement said.

Mustafa subsequently had a change of mind. He expressed the wish to be tried in his own country, the ministry said, and as a result, his application to the ECHR was withdrawn and the extradition procedure was put in motion. The Republic of Cyprus and Egypt have a bilateral agreement for the extradition of suspects for criminal offences.

The justice ministry said that “the Egyptian authorities have assured that Mustafa will face legal procedures that comply with international standards.”

He surrendered to Cypriot authorities about six hours after he landed, having gradually released all passengers and crew unharmed. One passenger took “selfies” with Mustafa which were posted on social media.

Mustafa had taken charge of the early morning flight by showing flight attendants what appeared to be a belt stuffed with plastic wires and a remote control. After the plane landed in Larnaca, he asked for the release of female prisoners in Egypt, and for his Cypriot ex-wife to come to the airport.

 

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