Egyptian hijacked plane to see wife after 24 yrs, shows ‘victory’ sign | world | Hindustan Times
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Egyptian hijacked plane to see wife after 24 yrs, shows ‘victory’ sign

A Cypriot court on Wednesday ordered an Egyptian man to be detained for eight days after authorities said he admitted hijacking a domestic EgyptAir flight and diverting it to the Mediterranean island by threatening to blow it up with a fake explosives belt.

world Updated: Mar 31, 2016 07:52 IST
Seif al-Din Mohamed Mostafa, an Egyptian man who hijacked an EgyptAir passenger plane the previous day and forced it to divert to Cyprus demanding to see his ex-wife, flashes the ’V’ for victory sign as he leaves the court in Larnaca.
Seif al-Din Mohamed Mostafa, an Egyptian man who hijacked an EgyptAir passenger plane the previous day and forced it to divert to Cyprus demanding to see his ex-wife, flashes the ’V’ for victory sign as he leaves the court in Larnaca.(AFP Photo)

An Egyptian man accused of hijacking a passenger plane and diverting it to Cyprus has told police he acted because he wanted to see his estranged wife and children, saying “what should one do?”.

The suspect, whom Cypriot and Egyptian authorities have identified as Seif Eldin Mustafa, 59, surrendered on Tuesday after commandeering a domestic Alexandria-Cairo flight with 72 passengers and crew on board.

Seif al-Din Mohamed Mostafa, an Egyptian man who hijacked an EgyptAir passenger plane the previous day and forced it to divert to Cyprus demanding to see his ex-wife, wears handcuffs as he leaves the court in Larnaca escorted by Cypriot police. (AFP Photo)

A Larnaca court on Wednesday ordered him to be held in custody for eight days on suspicion of hijacking, abduction, threatening violence, terrorism-related offences and two counts related to possession of explosives.

The latter counts were connected to his claim of being strapped with explosives, even though the belt he wore is believed to be fake, a police source told Reuters.

Read: Siege to surrender: How EgyptAir hijacking turned into a family feud

As he left the court compound in a police jeep, Mustafa stuck his hand out of an open window flashing the ‘v’ sign for victory.

Mustafa took charge of the early morning flight by flashing what appears to be a belt stuffed with plastic wires and a remote control, directing it to the holiday island where he asked for the release of female prisoners in Egypt, and to come in contact with his Cypriot ex-wife.

Seif al-Din Mohamed Mostafa is brought by policemen to court. (AFP Photo)

“When someone hasn’t seen his family for 24 years and wants to see his wife and children, and the Egyptian government doesn’t allow it, what should one do?,” he told Cypriot police in a statement.

Details of his claimed predicament were not available.

All hostages were released unharmed after a six-hour standoff.

Read: Love twist to EgyptAir hijacking tale, starring ‘unstable’ man

The suspect allegedly commandeered the aircraft 15 minutes after takeoff from Alexandria. He approached a flight attendant and showed off the belt, attached to a remote control he held in his hand, investigating officer Andreas Lambrianou told the court.

Seif al-Din Mohamed Mostafa wears handcuffs as he is brought to the court in Larnaca. (AFP Photo)

“The suspect asked all passengers and crew to hand in their passports, then gave two messages to a member of the crew, asking that the pilot be informed that he was a hijacker and wanted to land at an airport in Turkey, Greece or Cyprus, but preferably Cyprus,” Lambrianou said.

“In a note, he stressed that if the airplane landed on Egyptian territory he would immediately blow the plane up.”

In Cyprus, Mustafa dropped an envelope on the runway addressed to a Cypriot woman, later ascertained to be his ex-wife. In the letter, the suspect demanded the release of 63 female prisoners held in Egypt.