Lawyer for Egyptian hijacker says client 'tortured'

2016-05-26 23:30
A bus carrying some passengers from the hijacked EgyptAir aircraft as it landed at Larnaca airport. (Petros Karadjias, AP)

A bus carrying some passengers from the hijacked EgyptAir aircraft as it landed at Larnaca airport. (Petros Karadjias, AP)

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Nicosia - An Egyptian man who admitted hijacking an EgyptAir passenger jet and diverting it to Cyprus in March had been tortured by Egyptian authorities in the past, his lawyer said at an extradition hearing on Thursday.

Lawyer Robertos Brahimis repeated that his client Seif Eddin Mustafa, 59, fears he won't get a fair trial and could be tortured or even killed because of his political beliefs if a Cypriot court approves an Egyptian request for his extradition.

Brahimis told The Associated Press after the court adjourned that Mustafa claims he had been tortured on many occasions while in the custody of Egyptian authorities over the last three decades.

Police investigator Vakis Prodromou said Egyptian authorities have given assurances Mustafa won't face the death penalty or be denied his rights and will receive a fair trial if he's extradited.

Brahimis asked Prodromou under cross-examination whether Mustafa may be tortured if he's extradited. Prodromou said he can't know how he'll be treated once in the custody of Egyptian authorities.

Prodromou said Mustafa had written in a six-page statement he gave authorities during March 29 hijacking that he opposes the current Egyptian government and that citizens are "arrested and imprisoned unfairly."

The statement, written in Arabic, also said Egyptians now face "injustice and insecurity" and spoke of the "January 25th coup," a likely reference to the Egyptian military's 2013 overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Mustafa also demanded in the statement that 63 female dissidents now "unjustly detained" in Egypt be freed.

Mustafa hijacked the Alexandria-to-Cairo EgyptAir flight and diverted it to Cyprus by threatening passengers and crew with what turned out to be a fake suicide belt. The six-hour hijacking ended peacefully with Mustafa's arrest after all 72 passengers and crew aboard the A320 were released.

Cypriot authorities had described Mustafa as "not mentally stable" because of "unreasonable" demands he made during the hijacking.

A person on the defence team who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he's not authorized to publicly discuss details of the case said Mustafa has the Palestinian flag and the words 'PLO', the acronym for the Palestinian Liberation Organization, tattooed in Arabic on his right forearm.

Judge Dona Constantinou adjourned proceedings until next Wednesday.

Read more on:    egyptair  |  egypt  |  cyprus  |  air travel  |  north africa

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