The Egyptian man who hijacked a domestic flight flying between Alexandria and Cairo two years ago, has been referred to the Criminal Court on Wednesday, according to Egypt’s prosecution.
He is accused of “threatening passengers and hijacking the airplane in order to commit a terrorist act, as he believed in the edicts of the Muslim Brotherhood,” according to the prosecution.
The prosecution said that he did so “aiming to harm the tourism sector.” It added that he confessed to have met with members of the now banned Brotherhood group in Sudan in 2015 to “commit acts of terrorism in the country.”
Seif Eldin Mustafa, 60, has been extradited to Egypt after the government provided the necessary assurances to Cypriot authorities that the suspect will face legal proceedings in his country.
In March 2016, Mustafa commandeered a domestic EgyptAir flight with 72 passengers and crew onboard, after showing them a fake explosive belt. He ordered the flight to land in Larnaca airport, threatening to explode his explosive belt if the authorities did not respond to his demands.
Mustafa reportedly ordered officials to allow him to speak with authorities from the EU, the release of female inmates in Egypt, and expressed his desire to contact his Cypriot estranged wife.
Meanwhile, some passengers who were on the flight, stated that the hijacker read a letter in Arabic and he ordered to be delivered to his ex-wife.
Almost six hours of hijacking later, Mustafa surrendered to the Cypriot authorities. Since then, he has been held in Cyprus.
The motivations of the hijacker are not immediately clear. Egyptian officials ruled out at that time a terrorist motive, while the Cypriot Foreign Ministry described him as “psychologically unstable,” in reference to his demands.
In April 2016, Egypt addressed Cypriot authorities and requested Mustafa’s extradition. The Ministry of Justice in Cyprus approved the extradition of Mustafa back to Egypt.
However, the process stalled when Mustafa’s lawyer requested political asylum on his behalf, on the grounds that there were no guarantees for him to receive a fair trial in Egypt. His demand was rejected later in May 2016.