Tuesday 17 January 2017

'I'm so embarrassed and I don't want to see him' - ex-wife of EgyptAir hijacker as he faces multiple charges

Published 30/03/2016 | 13:47

EgyptAir plane hijacking suspect Seif Eddin Mustafa flashes the victory sign as he leaves a court in a police car in the Cypriot coastal town of Larnaca Wednesday, March 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
EgyptAir plane hijacking suspect Seif Eddin Mustafa flashes the victory sign as he leaves a court in a police car in the Cypriot coastal town of Larnaca Wednesday, March 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
EgyptAir plane hijacking suspect Seif Eddin Mustafa, second left, is escorted by Cyprus police officers as he leaves a court on Wednesday, March 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

The ex-wife of an Egyptian man who is accused of hijacking a plane has said she is "embarrassed" by all the publicity.

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According to reports, the woman said: "I'm so embarrassed by all the publicity and I don't want to see him."

She spoke as the 59-year-old Seif Eddin Mustafa was remanded in custody by a Cypriot court after authorities said he admitted hijacking the plane and diverting it to Cyprus by threatening to blow it up with a fake explosives belt.

Cyprus police prosecutor Andreas Lambrianou said the suspect, who was identified as 59-year-old Seif Eddin Mustafa, faces charges including hijacking, illegal possession of explosives, kidnapping and threats to commit violence.

Judge Maria Loizou said she found the police request for the maximum eight-day detention necessary because of fears the suspect might flee, and the fact that he admitted to the hijacking in a voluntary statement to police.

Tuesday's drama, which began when Mustafa allegedly claimed to have explosives and forced the flight from Alexandria to Cairo to land in Larnaca, ended peacefully six hours later.

EgyptAir plane hijacking suspect Seif Eddin Mustafa, second left, is escorted by Cyprus police officers as he leaves a court on Wednesday, March 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
EgyptAir plane hijacking suspect Seif Eddin Mustafa, second left, is escorted by Cyprus police officers as he leaves a court on Wednesday, March 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

Most of the 72 passengers and crew aboard the Airbus A320 were released soon after the plane landed, though a handful were held for longer. All were let go before Mustafa finally surrendered.

Mr Lambrianou said that after Mustafa was arrested, he told 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 him?"

An official at the general prosecutor's office in Egypt said there had been no travel ban on Mustafa. Egypt's interior ministry said he had a long criminal record but had completed a one-year prison term in March 2015.

After the hearing in Larnaca, a handcuffed Mustafa flashed the "V'' for victory sign out the window of a police vehicle as he was driven away from the court.

Cypriot officials described Mustafa as "psychologically unstable" following a bizarre set of demands he made to police negotiators, including what Mr Lambrianou said was a letter he wanted delivered to his Cypriot ex-wife in which he demanded the release of 63 dissident women imprisoned in Egypt.

Mr Lambrianou said that 15 minutes into flight MS181, which should have taken just 30 minutes, Mustafa demanded that the aircraft be diverted to an airport in Greece, Turkey or Cyprus.

Despite an initial refusal from Cypriot authorities, the plane eventually landed in Larnaca after the pilots warned of low fuel.

The police prosecutor said witnesses saw Mustafa wearing a white belt with pockets that had cylindrical objects stuffed inside. Wire protruding from the cylinders led to what appeared to be a "push button" detonator he held in his hand.

Mustafa had threatened to detonate the belt if police attempted to "neutralise" him, Mr Lambrianou said, but he eventually gave up after the crew and passengers were released.

Mr Lambrianou said no explosives were found in the belt, except for a container filled with an unidentified liquid.

Police also found an unidentified liquid in the suspect's bag, as well as numerous documents written in Arabic.

The prosecutor said Cypriot authorities will ask for help from Interpol to determine how the suspect managed to get the fake explosives belt through airport security in Egypt.

Press Association

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