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Egyptian hijacker who diverted plane to Cyprus to stand trial on terror related charges

An Egyptian man who hijacked a plane and diverted it to Cyprus in 2016 will face trial on terror-related charges, the Associated Press has reported citing Egypt’s chief prosecutor Nabil Sadek.

He said that Seif Eddin Mustafa, 60, was extradited to Egypt in August after a drawn-out legal battle in Cyprus, will face trial on charges of hijacking a civilian plane and taking passengers hostage.

No date has been set for the trial.

Mustafa hijacked a domestic EgyptAir flight in March 2016 using a fake suicide belt and diverted it to Cyprus, where he was arrested.

Mustafa said he did it to protest against Egypt’s government. Cypriot prosecutors say Mustafa later told authorities that his sole motive was to be reunited with his estranged Cypriot family.

Cypriot authorities handed Mustafa back to Egyptian authorities in August after a court ruling cleared the way for his extradition. Cairo provided assurances that he would face legal proceedings that conform to international standards.

Cypriot courts had heard appeals since 2016 against the extradition, 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.

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