Egyptian suspect remanded as hijacking sparks online buzz

March 30, 2016 3:38 pm
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Egypt has asked Cyprus to extradite Seif al-Din Mohamed Mostafa, accused of hijacking an EgyptAir flight and diverting it to Larnaca/AFP
Egypt has asked Cyprus to extradite Seif al-Din Mohamed Mostafa, accused of hijacking an EgyptAir flight and diverting it to Larnaca/AFP

, LARNACA, Cyprus, Mar 30 – The man accused of hijacking an Egyptian plane with a fake suicide belt and diverting it to Cyprus was remanded into custody Wednesday, as social media buzzed with ridicule about the bizarre incident.

A judge in Larnaca on the island’s southern coast ordered 58-year-old Egyptian Seif al-Din Mohamed Mostafa held for eight days as he made his first court appearance after Tuesday’s hijacking.

Overview
  • Mostafa is accused of forcing the Alexandria-to-Cairo flight to divert to Cyprus, where he demanded to see his Cypriot ex-wife, with whom he has children.
  • Police prosecutor Andreas Lambrianou said witnesses saw the suspect wearing a belt around his waist stuffed with cylindrical objects connected by wires to what appeared to be a hand-held detonator button.
  • At one point, the suspect had threatened to detonate the belt if his demands weren't met, he alleged.

Mostafa is accused of forcing the Alexandria-to-Cairo flight to divert to Cyprus, where he demanded to see his Cypriot ex-wife, with whom he has children.

Police told the court that Mostafa – described by officials as “psychologically unstable” – faces possible charges of hijacking, kidnapping, reckless and threatening behaviour, and breaches of the anti-terror law.

Police prosecutor Andreas Lambrianou said witnesses saw the suspect wearing a belt around his waist stuffed with cylindrical objects connected by wires to what appeared to be a hand-held detonator button.

At one point, the suspect had threatened to detonate the belt if his demands weren’t met, he alleged.

Mostafa will not face any formal charges until a later hearing and only at that point will he be expected to enter a plea.

He flashed journalists the victory sign as he was driven away by police from the courthouse, which is less than a kilometre (half a mile) from Larnaca airport where a six-hour standoff unfolded after the hijacking.

Most of the 55 passengers on the EgyptAir flight were quickly released after it landed in Larnaca but it took hours of negotiations, including a conversation with his ex-wife, before Mostafa surrendered to police.

“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 you?” the police prosecutor quoted him as telling officers after his arrest.

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