Accused faces series of charges
A court in Cyprus has ordered the detention for eight days of an Egyptian man who admitted to hijacking a domestic EgyptAir flight and diverting it to the east Mediterranean country by threatening to blow it up with a fake explosives belt.
Police prosecutor Andreas Lambrianou said the suspect, whom Cypriot and Egyptian authorities had earlier identified as 59-yearold Seif Eddin Mustafa, faces charges including hijacking, illegal possession of explosives, kidnapping and threats to commit violence.
Judge Maria Loizou said she found the police’s request for the maximum eight-day detention necessary because of fears that the suspect might flee and the fact that he admitted to the hijacking in a voluntary statement to police.
Tuesday’s dramatic incident ended peacefully when police arrested the suspect after all 72 passengers and crew aboard the Airbus A320 aircraft were released. Police said apart from the eight-member crew and 56 passengers of various nationalities, a further eight EgyptAir crew were aboard the aircraft as passengers.
Lambrianou said that the suspect told police after his arrest: “What’s someone supposed to do when he hasn’t seen his wife and children in 24 years and the Egyptian government won’t let him?”
A handcuffed Mustafa (pictured) flashed the ‘V’ for victory sign with his hand out of a police vehicle as he was driven away from the Larnaca courthouse after the hearing.
Cypriot officials had described Mustafa as “psychologically unstable” following a bizarre set of demands he made to police negotiators, including what Lambrianou said was a letter he wanted delivered to his Cypriot ex-wife in which he demanded the release of 63 women imprisoned in Egypt.