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Cyprus agrees to extradite EgyptAir hijacker

The 58-year-old, described as psychologically unstable, is to be sent back to Egypt in the coming weeks
Seif al-Din Mohamed Mostafa is brought by policeman to a Larnaca court on 30 March (AFP)

Cyprus said on Wednesday that it had approved a request from Cairo to extradite the man accused of hijacking an EgyptAir plane and diverting it to the Mediterranean island.

Egyptian Seif al-Din Mohamed Mostafa, 58, is accused of using a fake suicide belt to seize the Alexandria-to-Cairo flight on 29 March and force it to land in Cyprus.

Cypriot government officials said that a legal process would now begin to send home the 58-year-old, who is in police custody on the island.

Nicosia is expected to try to fast-track the extradition process which could take several weeks during which time Mostafa is expected to remain in custody.

The Egyptian state prosecutor's office had asked for him to be handed over under a 1996 bilateral extradition treaty.

Mostafa - described by authorities as psychologically unstable - has said he acted out of desperation to see his Cypriot ex-wife and children.

Cypriot prosecutors said last week he faced possible charges of hijacking, kidnapping, reckless and threatening behaviour, and breaches of the anti-terror law.

According to police, Mostafa has given a voluntary statement admitting to the hijacking.

His ex-wife has been quoted by Cypriot media as describing their five years of marriage as a "black period" of her life.

The hijacking ended peacefully with Mostafa's arrest.

Most of the 55 passengers were quickly released after the plane landed, but some escaped only minutes before the six-hour standoff finished.

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