August 18, 2018 / 8:27 PM / a month ago

Cyprus hands Egyptian plane hijacker over to Cairo - statement

CAIRO (Reuters) - Cyprus has handed over to Cairo an Egyptian man who hijacked an airliner to the island in 2016 using a fake explosive belt, Egypt’s state prosecutor said on Saturday, after a court ruling cleared the way for his extradition.

The prosecutor said in a statement that Seif Eldin Mustafa was handed over to an Egyptian Interpol team in Nicosia after Cairo provided assurances that he would face legal proceedings that conform to international standards.

Cypriot courts had heard appeals since 2016 against the extradition of the 61-year-old to Cairo, rejecting his arguments that he would not receive a fair trial in Egypt.

Mustafa commandeered a domestic Alexandria-Cairo flight with 72 passengers and crew on board in March 2016, ordering it to land in the island’s Larnaca airport.

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 directing the flight to Cyprus, he asked for the release of female prisoners in Egypt, and to have contact with his Cypriot ex-wife.

Reporting by Haitham Ahmed; writing by Sami Aboudi; editing by Andrew Roche

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