A Cypriot court ruled on Friday that an Egyptian man accused of hijacking a plane and diverting it to Cyprus can be extradited to Cairo for his alleged crimes.
Nicosia District Court judge Dona Constantinou was satisfied that Seif al-Din Mohamed Mostafa, 58, would get a fair trial in Egypt and would not be persecuted for his political beliefs.
“I have no doubt that the offences described in the extradition request are offences which can constitute an extradition order,” the judge’s ruling said.
“The offences are part of the common criminal code and under no circumstances can they be considered political,” she added.
Mostafa listened to the proceedings pensively and gave no outward sign of emotion.
Defence lawyer Robertos Vrahimi said he has been instructed by his client to appeal the decision and has 10 days to do so.
Mostafa is accused of using a fake suicide belt to seize the EgyptAir plane flying from Alexandria to Cairo in March and redirect it to the Mediterranean island.
The hijacking ended peacefully with his arrest and the release of the 55 passengers after a six-hour standoff.
Constantinou said that when Mostafa was arrested he gave “no political motive whatsoever” for his actions.
Egypt requested Mostafa face trial under a bilateral agreement.
The defence argued that Mostafa should not be extradited because he would not receive a fair trial and there was a possibility he could be tortured.
It was claimed that as an opponent of the regime in Egypt he would not get justice.
– Fair trial assurances accepted –
But the court said it was satisfied that Mostafa would get a fair trial and would not be targeted because of his previous history of activism.
The judge said that Mostafa had no recent trouble with the authorities and he was even issued with a legal passport to travel.
“He travelled without the authorities banning his exit from the country which would be expected if the authorities were persecuting him as claimed.”
The judge’s ruling said the court had no reason to doubt the assurances given by the Egyptian authorities to Cyprus that Mostafa’s human rights would be respected.
“Based on the evidence placed before me I judge that all the conditions have been met under the 1996 extradition agreement between the Cyprus Republic and the Arab Republic of Egypt,” said Constantinou.
In June Mostafa gave his reasons why he hijacked an EgyptAir plane and should not be extradited.
He painted himself as a liberal who wanted democracy for an Egyptian people subjected to “abductions, disappearance, illegal detention and extrajudicial killings”.
Mostafa said his motive for hijacking a domestic Egyptian flight on March 29 was to seek asylum in Italy and tell the world about the “repressive” Cairo government.
He urged the court not to extradite him to Egypt as he would become a “dead man walking”.
“If I am extradited to Egypt my fate would be torture and death. Perhaps I shall be found hanged in my prison.”
He requested asylum in Cyprus but it was refused as the authorities deem him a “perpetrator of serious crimes”.
The Cypriot justice ministry says Egypt has given assurances of a fair trial and that the extradition request has nothing to do with politics.
Mostafa has been described by Cyprus authorities as psychologically unstable.